A new conference, new team and new scheme awaited Roquan Smith when he was traded from the Chicago Bears to the Baltimore Ravens.
He got acclimated rather quickly it would seem.
A week after he was moved, Smith made his debut on Monday, starting and tallying five tackles as part of a stellar Ravens defensive effort that led to a 27-13 win over the New Orleans Saints.
“It was amazing just being out here with these guys,” Smith told NFL Network’s Kayla Burton after the game. “They was very supportive the entire week when I got here. No selfish guys, and being able to come out to a contending team and get the dub, it’s amazing.”
Indeed, Smith is part of a contender now. Dealt by a Bears club amid a rebuild and currently sporting a 3-6 record, Smith is now a member of a Ravens squad that won its third straight on Monday, improved to 6-3 and is perched atop the AFC North.
Smith’s debut likely came as part of the Ravens’ best defensive showing this year. Baltimore held New Orleans to 13 first downs and only 243 yards of offense, controlling the tempo throughout. The Saints didn’t score a touchdown until the game was all but settled with less than three minutes to play.
Smith was impressed and grateful to be part of a unit that featured stellar outings from Justin Houston and Marlon Humphrey, among others.
“It’s amazing just being around so many playmakers, guys that make plays all over the field,” he said. “I don’t see no weaknesses at all. Sucks giving up that last play, that’s why we gotta get better, but I’m excited about the direction we’re going.”
After four seasons in Chicago — all of them with more than 100 tackles — Smith entered the final year of his rookie deal this season. With 83 tackles through eight games, Smith was his usual extraordinary self with the Bears. Hence, he admitted to being “shocked” when he was dealt to the Ravens. But he said his focus had shifted to learning the Ravens playbook. It appears that focus was evident.
“He played very well,” Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said. “Roquan made a few tackles in the run game, they were running some of the RPOs in there and he split in there and made a couple tackles that could have gone a little further. He’s a heck of a player. He’s a heck of a guy. To come in and learn the defense that quickly says a lot about him.”
So far so good for Smith with Baltimore.
He’s still getting up to speed and taking it all in. For instance, Monday was his first chance to see his new quarterback, Lamar Jackson, in action live.
“It’s amazing, it’s the reason that guy was the MVP before,” said Smith, who played versus the Ravens just once, and it was last season with Tyler Huntley at QB. “Man, he’s special. I’m happy to be on his team, and I think it’s gonna be a lot of great things coming forward for him and this team.”
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