This is a photo of Steve Smith Sr. of the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team. This image reflects the Baltimore Ravens active roster as of Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo)

Steve Smith Sr.

It’s getting harder. Pushing through rehabilitation from injuries. Pushing through conditioning. Pushing through another training camp and long season.

As he works his way back from a torn Achilles that caused him to miss nine games last season, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., admits the whole process is catching up with him.

“To play football, to condition your body, condition your joints — hamstrings, quads, traps — to all that pounding, all that stuff, man, that’s tough duty,” Smith told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan at the Ravens’ training camp in Owings Mills, Md., Tuesday. ” … I was averaging between four to five days (per week) of rehab/working out since January, and I’m still going now, which is to get on the field. This is August.

“There were times that I was like, ‘Man, is this worth it? Will I be able to come back even close to where I was when I got hurt?’ Because when I got hurt, I think I was doing pretty good.”

Smith knows he’s closing in on the end of his NFL career. He doesn’t want to keep playing at anything less than the highest level possible, and once that’s no longer the case, he will be done.

“Can I continue the standard four more years? No,” Smith said. “And I’m not seeking it, I don’t desire it. Will I miss football? I will miss football a great deal. I’m 37 years old and there is a standard in myself that I hold. But there is also 52 other guys that are expecting Steve Smith Sr., to make a play, to come down with a catch, to run that ball down. And so that pressure that I’ve (felt) over a 16-year career, I’m like man, give it to somebody else.”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Texans’ O’Brien: Osweiler reaped benefits from offseason program

AAAA Bill O'Brien

Bill O’Brien sits down with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt

Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien has plenty of reason to be encouraged by the level of preparation his new quarterback, Brock Osweiler, has been doing for the season.

For one thing, he knows Osweiler had the ideal role model in Peyton Manning on his previous team, the Denver Broncos. For another, O’Brien believes the Texans set up an ideal offseason program to help with Osweiler’s learning a new offense.

“That’s a big help, any time that you’re in the same room with Peyton Manning,” O’Brien told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt at the Texans’ training camp in Houston Tuesday. “I’m sure a lot of that rubs off on you — preparation, his attention to detail. But the thing that we did I think that really helped us was our offseason program. We built a foundation of installation so that when they got back here, a lot of it was review.

“(There were) certain things that you can’t do, that you can do in pads that you maybe wouldn’t do in OTAs, but for the most part a lot of this was review and we did a good job of teaching it and getting the information to these guys so that when we got back here in July, they were ready to go.”

O’Brien also gave the following update on J.J. Watt’s recovery from surgery to repair a herniated disc.

“JJ’s doing well,” the coach said. “He’s 18-19 days out of surgery and he’s into the rehab protocol. He’s following the doctors’ orders, which sometimes is frustrating for him because he wants to get going. But he’s doing a good job of following their orders. He’s made progress every single day. I know that he’ll be ready early. When that is, I’m not sure. I don’t think anybody can predict that, but I know he’s working to be ready for Game One.”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Ravens’ Bisciotti: ‘I hate the kickoff rule’

To say Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti isn’t a fan of the NFL’s new kickoff rule that moves the ball from the 20- to the 25-yard line after a touchback would be an understatement.

“I hate the rule,” he told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan at the Ravens’ training camp in Owings Mills, Md., Tuesday. “I hated the rule before we understood that it could backfire (with teams kickers placing the ball just short of the goal line to actually encourage more returns). I wasn’t thinking about those.

“Everything that the NFL does seems to benefit the offense, and we’ve kind of built our reputation as a defensive team and a special-teams team, and I think it’s a lousy rule. I’m not in favor of it, and I hope they go back to 20. That five yards, people can say it doesn’t matter, I think it matters a lot. I think five yards is a big difference when it comes to digging out of a hole. I don’t like it.

“Part of the game was you kick that into the end zone, you put them on the 20, and you’ve got a really good chance if you can stop them and not get one first down, then you’re going to get good field position. You can say five yards doesn’t matter, but I think it matters a lot.”

NFL Training Camp Tour: Osweiler on joining Texans: ‘It’s really been a dream’

AAAA Brock Osweiler

Brock Osweiler sits down with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt

The situation couldn’t be a whole lot better.

Brock Osweiler is beginning his first full season as a starting quarterback on a team he believes surrounds him with great coaching and talented playmakers. Houston, there is no problem. Just a happy camper.

“It’s been really exciting,” Osweiler told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt at the Texans’ training camp in Houston Tuesday. “Since my wife and my arrival in Houston (after signing as a free agent from Denver), going back to April, it’s really been a dream and I’m very fortunate to be coached by tremendous football coaches here in Houston. I have great teammates and it really makes coming to work every single day a lot of fun.

“It’s been a little bit of a challenge learning and trying to master this offense, but that’s what football’s all about. That’s why I get out of bed in the morning. I’m chasing trying to be great, and that’s what we’re doing here in Houston.”

The chase is made a bit easier by the fact he has one of the NFL’s top receivers in DeAndre Hopkins.

“The thing about DeAndre is he has a great competitive spirit and he wants to be great,” Osweiler said. “There’s not a day that DeAndre doesn’t show up and he’s not asking for the football. He wants the football every single day, but rightfully so. He’s working hard, he gets open on his routes and he makes big plays down the field. The juice he has flowing through his body, it’s second to none. He loves to compete, he plays hard, and he’s a great teammate.”

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