NFL training camps start this week, and while Bud Dupree is groomed as a starter in Pittsburgh, his fellow former Cat Za’Darius Smith is impressing people down in Baltimore as well. Sports Illustrated’s Doug Farrar named Big Z one of twelve underrated rookies that could surprise people during training camp over the next month:
The Ravens lost Pernell McPhee to the Bears in free agency, which robbed them of their best backup edge rusher and multi-gap disruptor. McPhee would rush the passer from just about everywhere, and John Harbaugh was clear that Smith is slotted in as McPhee’s replacement.
“He had the physicality, the heavy hands, the high motor,” Harbaugh said in May. ” He has pass rush ability even maybe more so than we saw from Pernell coming out. He has hips, and he can get around blocks. If he develops like Pernell did, we’re going to have something.”
Get ’em, Big Z.