At age 35, Steve Smith is on pace for the best statistical season of his career. He will likely slow down a bit going forward, but it seems like Smith has discovered the fountain of youth with the Baltimore Ravens. Has getting away from Cam Newton helped him?
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported on Sunday that Smith was not a big believer in Newton during his time with the Carolina Panthers.
“From what I understand, Cam Newton was a big source of frustration for Steve Smith,” Rapoport said on NFL Gameday Morning. “In fact, he told close friends he doesn’t believe Cam Newton sees the field at all, specifically in the red zone. What Steve Smith told friends is that Cam Newton doesn’t think fast enough or isn’t precise enough to succeed in the red zone.”
While we don’t know how true that is, we do know that Smith could not have been more motivated against his former team on Sunday. He hauled in a 62-yard touchdown catch on a tipped pass early in the second quarter and finished with seven receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns.
As Rapoport noted, Newton has only completed 44% of his passes in the red zone since 2011. A lot of that might have to do with the fact that running is more difficult in the NFL, and he did a lot of scrambling in the red zone at Auburn.
Through four games, Smith seems to be Joe Flacco’s most trusted target. If he can stay healthy, there’s no reason he can’t have a great season.