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NFL AM: Steve Smith Sr. Returning To Ravens In 2016

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Steve Smith Sr. returning to Ravens in 2016:

You almost knew that there was no chance that Steve Smith Sr. would allow his career to end on injured reserve.

It only seems right that the veteran receiver will return to the Baltimore Ravens for the 2016 season, and Smith announced on Twitter Wednesday that he will do just that.

Ravens fans entered the season optimistic about Joe Flacco, Smith and rookie receiver Breshad Perriman, who was supposed to replace exiting veteran speedster Torrey Smith.

Instead, they are watching their season end with Ryan Mallett hurling the rock to Kamar Aiken. To his credit, Aiken who had played in 19 games and pulled in just 24 catches since entering the league with the Buffalo Bills in 2011, has had a very good season catching 70 balls and 5 touchdowns in 15 games while making 13 starts.

For Perriman, Aiken and the receiver the Ravens almost inevitably draft in April, Smith’s return is fantastic news. Sure Baltimore’s young receivers would all likely compile much greater stats in 2016 if Smith decided to hang them up instead of returning for one more season, but the lessons they’ll pick up from spending another season in a locker room with a potential Hall of Famer.

In Smith, the young receivers can see how to become a player that makes himself everything you want in a wide receiver that he can control. There was nothing the 15-year veteran could do to make himself 6-foot-4, but there was nothing he could do to become a better player that he wouldn’t do.

It might sound crazy, but perhaps the best compliment you could give the veteran is that he really wasn’t that gifted. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Smith was just too small to be an elite receiver. He had good speed, but not blow your doors off speed. His hands were good, but they weren’t, “Wow, did you see that?” good.

There was no reason that the long-time Carolina Panthers, now Ravens receiver would be great, except what the guy has upstairs, and beating in his chest. Despite the fact that you could always find guys with better size, better speed and better hands, Smith grew into one of the best, and even most feared receivers in the NFL.

Even in the NFL where most guys owe their careers to drive, passion and fire, you won’t find a guy with more fire than No. 89. Thankfully for all of us, we won’t have to next year now that Smith has announced he’s returning for one more season.

Johnny Manziel to miss finale after being placed in concussion protocol:

Well that’s it Cleveland Browns’ fans. You’ve seen all of controversy starting, polarizing, first-round pick Johnny Manziel in 2015.  On Wednesday, Manziel showed up to the Browns facility with concussion-like symptoms, and after being sent to a doctor who confirmed the quarterback indeed suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, his season was over.

I know, you’ve likely read this here before, but what an absolute waste of the 2015 season.

The Browns could have started Manziel all season, and had some kind of an idea who the young man is as a quarterback.  Instead, Mike Pettine and Cleveland opted to go with Josh McCown. To quote Ricky Watters, “For who? For what?”

For three victories.

A player who the Browns not only selected in the first round, but traded back into the first round, giving up other assets for, has been given eight starts over his first two seasons, for three victories.

Cleveland will start Austin Davis on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with Terrelle Pryor serving as back up unless the Browns sign another quarterback before Sunday. Pryor took snaps behind Davis at Wednesday’s practice.

Peyton Manning to back up Brock Osweiler Sunday:

This is just weird. On the list of things many NFL fans probably thought they’d never see, is Peyton Manning, the backup.

When the Denver Broncos take the field against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Manning will indeed serve as Brock Osweiler’s backup in the season’s final game. It seems almost unimaginable for a team with a healthy Manning to enter the playoffs without him at starting quarterback, but it’s beginning to sound like that’s exactly what head coach Gary Kubiak intends to do.

A tweet from the team’s official Twitter account quotes Kubiak’s support for his young starting quarterback.

Kubiak: “Brock’s our quarterback — nothing has changed from that standpoint. Manning being available is a change.”

While the Broncos head coach sounds prepared to stick with the youngster, he also sounds optimistic about Manning’s status should he have to, or decide it’s best to go back to his Hall of Fame veteran out of the bullpen.

“He’s throwing the ball well,” Kubiak said. “Last week was a very positive sign.”

For his part, Manning is being an absolute pro. He’s not complaining about how he deserves his job back or shouldn’t lose it to injury as some with his kind of clout could. The Broncos veteran quarterback spoke with reporters Wednesday and remains positive about being there to help the team and Osweiler any way he can.

“I will do what I can to help Brock and the team,” Manning said despite the fact it must be very difficult to relinquish control of the offense on a team he knows is talented enough to compete for a Super Bowl championship if only he could return to his typical level of play.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.