Back in January, Smith underwent surgery to correct a minor sports hernia injury that was initially believed to require 4-to-6 weeks to heal. Three months later, it appears Smith is back on the field and ready to go. While the injury wasn't believed to be overly serious in the first place, the 26-year-old will undoubtedly benefit from a full offseason uninhibited by any sort of rehab.
Smith (sports hernia) is signing with Green Bay, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
The 2015 fourth-round pick enjoyed a breakout season in the final year of his rookie contract, recording career-high marks across the board with 45 tackles (26 solo), 25 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks on 690 snaps. Smith figures to start at outside linebacker in Mike Pettine's 3-4 scheme, joining a Packers defense that gets plenty of pressure up the middle from linemen Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. There may be some level of concern that Smith is a one-year wonder, but his per-snap production was solid even before the breakout season. He should make a full recovery from January surgery on a sports hernia long before the start of training camp.
Smith had sports hernia surgery in January and is expected to need 4-to-6 weeks for recovery, Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com reports.
The 2015 fourth-round pick broke out in the final year of his rookie contract, piling up 45 tackles and a team-high 8.5 sacks in 16 games. Smith may have priced himself out of Baltimore's range, especially if the team still has serious expectations for 2017 draft picks Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser. There is some chance, however small, that the Ravens could push to re-sign the 26-year-old Smith rather than 36-year-old Terrell Suggs. The more likely scenario has Smith cashing in with a different team this March, at which point he should be approaching full strength in his recovery.
Smith recorded 45 tackles (26 solo), 8.5 sacks, two passes defensed and one forced fumble across 16 games in the 2018 season.
Smith led the Ravens in sacks in 2018, a crowning achievement for one of the league's most feared defenses. He played in 67 percent of the defensive snaps, a total that only trailed Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley. Suggs, Mosley and Smith are all slated to enter free agency this offseason in addition to Patrick Onwuasor. It's highly unlikely the Ravens will be able to retain all four linebackers, meaning Smith could find a potential suitor elsewhere.
Smith recorded five tackles (four solo), including 1.5 sacks in Saturday's win over the Chargers.
Smith is enjoying his best season as a professional. He entered 2018 with 10 sacks in his first-three seasons and has gone on to post 8.5 sacks through 15 games this year. He's seen a good portion of snaps despite being a backup to Terrell Suggs, and he'll likely continue to provide quality depth behind the veteran pass rusher as the regular season comes to a close and the playoffs begin.
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