Torrey Smith, LaQuan Williams take different NFL paths

Maryland receivers reunited in Baltimore

continued from page 1

“When I was drafted there, we were talking afterwards,” Smith said. “He was like, ‘I just hope I get a shot.’ I told him I hope you get to Baltimore some way. For him to be here, it’s surreal.”

Proving his worth

When training camp opened in the NFL, teams were allowed to carry up to 90 players. This gave teams extra bodies to help accelerate practices since there was no offseason preparation.

While more undrafted free agents signed with teams during training camp, it was projected this would be a season where many of them wouldn’t be able to latch onto a team. Williams missed that memo. The Ravens had just released Mason, which left them thin at receiver. Kick return specialist David Reed was banged up with a wrist injury.

It was a perfect opportunity for Williams to showcase abilities that may have been overlooked or overshadowed in college.

The Baltimore native wasted no time on the field. In the Ravens‘ first preseason game against Philadelphia, he caught three passes for 46 yards in a 13-6 loss. The next week against Kansas City, Williams ran back two kickoffs for 61 yards and caught a 38-yard pass.

In a 34-31 comeback win over Washington in the third preseason game, Williams returned a punt 38 yards to help set up the game-winning drive. At that point, he’d done enough to go from working part-time at a paint store to making the Ravens‘ 53-man roster.

Living the dream

Despite Williams‘ stellar preseason, there was still a shadow of doubt he would be on the outside looking in. The Ravens brought in veteran Lee Evans to add experience and a deep threat to the receiving group.

But Smith maintained a positive presence in Williams‘ ear.

“You already made the team, just make sure you’re prepared to stay here,” Smith told his friend.

Final cuts were made and Williams was among the 53 on the roster.

“I remember giving him a big man-hug,” Smith said. “I’ll always remember watching how hard he had to work, being the underdog in the situation.”

It was the feel-good story of the Ravens‘ preseason.

“And here he comes in and makes the team,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s a great story. It’s going to be fun to see where he goes from here. He’s on the team for a reason. He’s here to contribute on special teams and on offense.”

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