A personal coach for Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and outside linebacker Alex Highsmith has a new job in the AFC North.
Chuck Smith, a former All-Pro pass rusher for the Atlanta Falcons, was hired by the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday as the new outside linebackers coach under head coach John Harbaugh, the team announced.
Smith, who goes by “Dr. Rush”, has worked with a number of NFL clientele each offseason in an effort to improve their abilities to rush the passer, most notably Heyward and Highsmith in Pittsburgh.
“Chuck is a proven and highly-respected pass rush coach who many pro and collegiate players have sought guidance from,” Harbaugh said in a statement announcing the hiring of Smith. “He brings unique insight, experience and passion to the Ravens, and we’re confident that he’ll have a great impact on our outside linebackers group.”
Smith replaces former outside linebackers coach Rob Leonard, who left to become the defensive line coach of the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason.
Prior to landing with the Ravens in an unconventional hire, Smith spent much of his post-playing days, which ended in 2000 after a stint with the Carolina Panthers, molding and mentoring young defensive players at the high school, collegiate and NFL level. Smith has trained three-time Los Angeles Rams’ NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Carlos Dunlap, and former NFL defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, defensive end Robert Mathis and defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Smith also previously played a role in current Buffalo Bills’ outside linebacker Von Miller’s Pass Rush Summit each offseason.
As recently as early February, Smith was still working with Heyward, helping him stay sharp as a pass rusher, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo that Heyward still has plenty of high-end years in front of him.
“I think in this modern time, athletes can play longer because they’re healthier. Cam is the best example of that. He has years to go”, he said. “No matter where’s he’s at, he can rush and he can stop the run, and he’s doing it at a high level. Cam still has some years left in him”.
“I think he constantly reinvents himself”, Smith added. “He pushes himself to change up his training. He’ll do an assessment at the end of the year and he’ll figure out what he has to do better. I think the thing about Cam is he works super hard. He’s in Pittsburgh going from fields to gyms back to fields, pushing himself every day. He eats healthy”.
Now, Heyward and Highsmith will presumably have to find a new pass rush coach with Smith now under contract with the Ravens, an AFC North rival.
Smith’s return to coaching is his first foray back into the coaching ranks since he spent the 2010 season as the defensive line coach at his alma mater of Tennessee under then head coach Derek Dooley. Smith also has served as a consultant for the Ravens (2008), New York Jets (2009) and was the Cincinnati Bengals’ Bill Walsh Coaching Fellow during their 2015 OTAs and training camp.