Smith soon will be activated from the physically unable to perform list, and he could practice as early as Monday, according to reports.
Although we might not see much of Smith in the preseason, the 37-year-old will be embarking on his final regular season and some very significant career milestones are within reach. If he plays anywhere close to the level he has the past few seasons in 2016, Smith could end up in the top 10 all time in both receptions and receiving yards.
View photosSteve Smith is ready to return to the Baltimore Ravens from a significant injury. (Getty Images)More
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Smith stands 11th in receiving yards all time with 13,932 and needs 73 to move past James Lofton into 10th place. The only active player ahead of Smith on the list is Andre Johnson , who is attempting to make the Tennessee Titans roster. Hes standing at No. 9 with 14,100 yards.
Smith could pass recent Hall of Fame inductee Marvin Harrison, who is seventh all time with 14,580. That would require wholesale jerseys from china a 649-yard final season from Smith.
Smith also sits 15th on the all-time receptions list with 961. Thirty-nine catches would give him quadruple digits, and he could pass retired players Randy Moss (982), Hines Ward (1,000) and Isaac Bruce (1,024) with a 64-catch campaign. Smith has averaged 4.3 receptions per game or more each of the past five seasons he was at 6.6 when he went down with his injury in the seventh game a year ago and would be up around 70 catches if he kept up that pace and played a full season.
But heres whats working against Smith: history. In the leagues history only three wide receivers (Tony Gonzalez was a tight end) age 37 or older have had more than 581 yards receiving in a season Jerry Rice , Charlie Joiner and Terrell Owens. Amazingly, Rice did it five times after the age of 37, Joiner twice and Owens once. The same trio of players is the only group of 37-year-olds (or older) to have more than 52 catches in a season, too.
View photosOnly three wide receivers age 37 or older have had more than 581 receiving yards in a season (Pro Football Reference).More
Could Smiths Hall candidacy depend on him finishing above, or close to, Harrison? What if his numbers end up closer to Wards? That might be a very interesting case study. Smith and Ward will end up playing roughly the same number of games in their respective careers, and they could finish with about the same reception total and total touchdowns (Ward had 86 total TDs; Smith stands now at 84, not counting postseason). Yet Smith could end up with more than 2,000 receiving yards and with better per-game postseason numbers.
Owens is being held out from the Hall to date unfairly; he absolutely should get in. Bruce deserves a spot. Moss is a slam dunk, and Reggie Wayne (1,070-14,345-82 receiving with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck his quarterbacks all but one season) should get in without issue.
Shouldnt Smith get in even if he limps out in his final season? Well, one would thinks so but Henry Ellard and Torry Holt are in the same receiving neighborhoods and are no sure things. Smiths relatively wholesale jerseys from china free shipping low receiving TD total (76, 29th all time) might be seen as a bit of a mar, so pushing that number up to 80 or more might be a big help.
Plus, as weve seen with Owens, character will be considered. Smith got into two infamous fights with two different teammates, which will hurt his cause, but on the flip side he has been virtually trouble-free for almost a decade and has thrived despite horribly inconsistent QB play and a number of injuries derailing Smith.
We have no idea what to expect this season from Smith at an age when most receivers are in rocking chairs, and coming off a serious injury adds a layer of complexity to the whole deal. But we do know hes on the precipice of some tremendous career totals and yet probably has done enough for Hall consideration even without adding to his numbers.
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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter!