Smith: 'I didn't come through'

ATLANTA -- Troy Smith spoke in slow, measured tones late Friday night, and it was impossible for the Heisman Trophy winner to hide his disappointment at how he performed during a prime opportunity to impress the Baltimore Ravens prior to today's final roster cutdown.

Smith played the entire second half of the Ravens' 13-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome, and the former Ohio State star's last pass of the night was intercepted by rookie cornerback Chris Houston on a desperation heave on 4th-and-25 with the clock running down.

"Anytime you get a substantial amount of playing time, you have to come through," Smith said. "I didn't come through. It wasn't a good look for the rest of my team. I've got to do nothing but get better.

"I take pride in winning. I take pride in being a team player in every portion of the game. Anytime you don't win, it's upsetting, preseason or not. That's what I take pride in."

After completing 11 of 18 passes for 86 yards and being sacked four times, now the rookie has to wait until late this afternoon to learn whether he'll be a member of the active roster as the third quarterback or if he'll be exposed to the waiver wire before the Ravens try to sign him to the practice squad as soon as Sunday.

"This is my first time going through it, so I can't tell you whether it's nerve-wracking or not," Smith said. "I'm anxious to see how the process is going to be."

During the second half, Smith clearly demonstrated a case of nerves. He badly overthrew Matt Willis on his first throw and was sacked on his first drive, too.

Yet, Smith rallied impressively during his second crack against the Falcons' defense. He moved around smoothly in the pocket, connecting with Romby Bryant twice for 11 and 17 yards and Willis for 12 more.

"He did some good things," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He did some things he's got to get better at."

The Ravens cut Drew Olson, Smith's competition for the third quarterback job, last week.

Although he's in limbo for the majority of today before the front office will begin informing players of their fate at the training complex around 4 p.m. , Smith isn't discouraged with his progress and vowed to work even harder.

"For the most part with what I've had to deal with, I can do nothing but try to get better," said Smith, who signed a three-year contract in July that included a $105,000 signing bonus. "The reps you get are incredibly important, and it's all dependent on how good you do.

"As a quarterback, I need to continue to study. I've got to continue to be the first one there and the last one to leave, and I will continue to do that."

Smith, whose draft stock plummeted amidst concerns about his size at 6-foot, 225 pounds and a disastrous BCS title game loss to the Florida Gators, has developed a thick skin to criticism over the past year.

Since arriving at training camp, Smith has impressed his teammates with his attitude, work ethic and arm strength while struggling with his accuracy and decision-making.

"It seems like just yesterday that I was in the same position," said backup quarterback Kyle Boller, who started as a rookie in 2003. "I remember a couple years ago throwing a pick to Ed Hartwell down here. It's a learning process, it's a learning curve.

"It's not easy. I just try to help him out as much as I can, give him input on his reads, just the little things. He's a heck of a player. He's going to be just fine."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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