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Steve Smith injury: Ravens WR returns to practice for 49ers week

The Baltimore Ravens had Steve Smith back at practice following his Week 4 back injury. We break down what this means for the 49ers defense.

The Baltimore Ravens returned to practice on Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT, and they got a big name back. Wide receiver Steve Smith was back on the practice field according to Ravens beat writers. Earlier in the day, John Harbaugh had said he would practice to "some degree" but did not go into details.

Smith suffered a back injury in Week 4. There was a report of four broken bones in his back, and another that said it was four broken ribs. Whatever the case, it was a non-surgical injury, and he is working his way back onto the field after missing Week 5.

After a slow opener with just two receptions for 13 yards, Smith put together a pair of monster efforts against the Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals in Weeks 2 and 3. He ten catches for 150 yards against the Raiders, and then 13 catches for 186 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. He had four receptions for 24 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers before leaving with the injury.

Smith's Week 4 injury and Week 5 absence ended up with huge performances from Justin Forsett. The Ravens running back rushed for 150 yards against the Steelers, and then 121 yards against the Cleveland Browns. If Smith is able to go this week, that presents a huge challenge to a 49ers defense that has been shredded through the air in three of their five games. Combine that with Forsett getting into a rhythm, and it's a huge challenge for a defense that is still trying to figure out its identity.