Notebook: Troy Smith requests trade

OWINGS MILLS – One year ago, Troy Smith was on the verge of winning a competition to become the Baltimore Ravens' starting quarterback. Now, Smith wants out of Baltimore as his agent disclosed today on his Twitter account that he has requested a trade.

The former Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State has no chance of becoming a starter here with Joe Flacco entrenched as the Ravens' franchise quarterback.

"Ravens QB Troy Smith, Ohio State alum, native + Heisman winner wants playing time," Ralph Cindrich, Smith's agent, wrote Monday. "Ravens notified. Will seek trade after playoffs, SB run."

Smith, who has completed 5 of 9 passes for 24 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 21.3 passer rating while rushing for 31 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, was going to start a preseason game against the St. Louis Rams last year when he was stricken by a severe tonsil infection and was sidelined for nearly half the regular season.

During that time, Flacco established himself as the long-term starter.

It's unclear if Smith would have much, if any, trade value.

During his weekly radio program on 105.7 FM on Monday night in Westminster, Smith said he likes playing in Baltimore, but has set a goal of becoming a starter in the NFL.

Cindrich declined to elaborate on his comments via an e-mail.

The 6-foot, 215-pound former fifth-round draft pick is mobile with 109 career rushing yards and two touchdowns on 29 career carries, but has completed just 53.9 percent of his throws for 558 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for a career 79.7 passer rating.

The timing of Cindrich's announcement isn't ideal considering the Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot, but it's a minor controversy at best.

It's worth noting that Cindrich is based in Pittsburgh and probably huddled with Smith over the weekend when the Ravens were in town for their loss to the Steelers.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he's aware of Smith's request, but didn't seem concerned. Harbaugh said that he has discussed the matter with general manager Ozzie Newsome.

"I know this: Troy and Ozzie have an unbelievably good relationship, and they talk every single day," Harbaugh said. "I know from a coach's perspective, I want Troy Smith here as long as we can keep Troy Smith here.

"Troy Smith is a heck of a quarterback, and I know at some point in time, I'm sure he wants to be a starter. But Troy Smith is a Raven, and we're going to try to keep him a Raven as long as we can."

INJURY UPDATES: Offensive tackle Jared Gaither has missed the past three games due to a foot and toe injury.

Now, the 6-foot-9, 345-pound former University of Maryland lineman may be about to return to the field.

Harbaugh said that Gaither was close to playing in the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"He's been in a boot to take the load off the foot," Harbaugh said of Gaither.  "He looks good. He was probably close on Sunday, but he wasn't 100 percent by any stretch, and he hasn't practiced. So, we thought it was better to bring Tony Moll up and have him be the backup for us."

Harbaugh denied reports that he nixed injured free safety Ed Reed's plan to play despite a groin injury that has kept him out for the past four games.

"Ed and I had a conversation," Harbaugh said.  "He tried to go. He didn't feel like he could go and I didn't feel like he could go based on what he said about the work out he had. So, no, that's not true."

Harbaugh added that he wouldn't hesitate to play Reed even during a week where he doesn't practice.

"A guy like Ed Reed, he can go play," said Harbaugh.  "He can go play well without practice. He's had all this experience, all these reps. He's capable."

"He doesn't need the practice to play well, but you worry about the re-injury part of it. And he worries about that, so you want to test it a little bit before he goes back and plays. We'll just have to see how that works out this week."

PRAISE FOR CUNDIFF: Harbaugh praised kicker Billy Cundiff for providing a stable presence in the kicking game.

Cundiff has converted 12 of 15 field goals with at least a few influenced by high long snaps from Matt Katula.

"Billy's obviously solidified us," Harbaugh said. "Billy's kicking off very well and he's kicking field goals really well. Billy's been around, Billy's been on the street. Billy's had great success early in his career.

"He was one of these guys that was going to be a star when he was in Dallas early on. Had some injures, got bumped around, got beat up a little bit, and now he's back."

Despite the praise, Harbaugh didn't commit to Cundiff for next season.

"We'll see long-term wise, but I've got high hopes for Billy," Harbaugh said.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens' defensive line was credited with 2 ½ sacks against the Steelers, including one by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "I did all right," Ngata said. "Ben does a great job of getting out of your hands. That's the only thing we have to fix. Other than that, we did a great job as a defensive line." The Ravens finished with four sacks overall. "We hurried Ben more than maybe we ever had before, and so he had to throw some balls away, threw a couple balls into the seats and threw a couple balls into the dirt," Harbaugh said. "We got him on the ground, really, every time we had a chance to get him on the ground, which was huge." … After initially second-guessing the illegal contact call on cornerback Frank Walker in the final minutes that erased a Tom Zbikowski interception, Harbaugh has now accepted that the officials were correct. The Ravens were of the opinion at first that the flag had been thrown prior to Roethlisberger escaping the contact, which would have made it moot whether there was contact downfield. "I would say it's the right call," Harbaugh said. "I thought it was made later into the play, once he had started to scramble. It was made on the initial release. Frank had position in a two-deep coverage, and the receiver ran into him and then Frank hooked him, and that's what the call was." … Reserve running back Jalen Parmele averaged 29 yards per kickoff return, and had a long return of 49 yards in his first game as the replacement for Lardarius Webb. "Jalen on the kickoff returns was very good," Harbaugh said. "He's a north-south guy. He's physical. He's got a little bit of speed. So, it's good to see a guy step up. I think he's a threat. He's going to do a good job for us." … The team is scheduled to fly out to the West Coast on Friday and will remain on their normal schedule as far as times for meetings and curfews. "A West Coast trip is definitely an issue," Harbaugh said. "We've got a West Coast way of doing things. We did it in San Diego, and it will be the same format as San Diego. It worked pretty well out there, but it's kind of a tried and true formula that people have used for years, and that's what we'll do." ... Harbaugh explained his rationale on not calling a timeout at the end of the first half when the Steelers had the ball. "The idea was to save the timeout and make sure that we got them stopped on the next play before I called the timeout," he said. "That was my choice, because there was a chance with Ben Roethlisberger that they were going to complete a pass, and all you've done is give them 30 more seconds to go down the field on you, which they ended up doing. So the idea was: ‘Let's hold the timeout, make sure we get the ball back, and we can use it on offense if we need to, and we still would have had enough time.'" … Harbaugh didn't have much of a reaction to the Indianapolis Colts' decision to pull their starters in a loss to the New York Jets that propelled the Jets to the fifth playoff seed in the AFC. "Well, I didn't see it because I was on the plane," Harbaugh said. "I guess I saw it when I get home after the fact, so I didn't have any reaction. Our situation is what it is. We have to take care of what we're doing, and the Colts have to do what they have to do to take care of what they were doing. So, it's understandable."

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