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Ravens' Steve Smith Sr. eyes return for 2016 season

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It appears Steve Smith Sr.'s reports of his own retirement were a bit premature.

The veteran Ravens receiver is eyeing a return for the 2016 season, provided he's healthy enough to do so, according to people who have stayed in regular contact with him. If Smith feels like his old, explosive self when he fully recovers from his torn Achilles, these sources say he'll play again.

All of this comes after Smith announced his retirement prior to the start of the season. Even at that point, people close to him doubted that he was really going to walk off into the sunset. And even when he exited the field in horrible pain with a towel over his face, the sources were confident the injury would not mark the end of his career.

A day later, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he thought Smith would be back for one more run in 2016. That appears to be on track.

Smith would be playing in the final year of a three-year, $10.5 million deal.

Smith has dabbled in business and has prepared for a life after football. But he's not quite ready to completely commit to that world, yet.

Smith is out of a walking boot after he suffered a torn Achilles on Nov. 1 -- a significant rehab step. He's focusing on hydrotherapy to minimize atrophy, staying strong to keep his options open. He needs his explosiveness to play, and there is no guarantee that he returns given the injury. He must be able to push off and cut if he returns.

If that happens, the tough-as-nails Smith (who played through a broken back this year, too) will be back for a 16th season.

UPDATE: Smith responded to this report on Sunday morning:

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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