Steve Smith is the oldest wide receiver in the NFL. Smith is older than every single running back and every single tight end too. There aren't many non-kickers who are actually younger than him. The 37-year old defied the odds to catch 46 passes for 670 yards and three touchdowns in seven games last season. Then came the Achilles tear. A torn Achilles tendon is a devastating injury for any NFL player, not least one who is already clinging to dying embers of his career.
Michael Crabtree was the most recent example of a prominent receiver who tore his Achilles prior to Smith. The then San Francisco 49ers receiver tore his Achilles ahead of the 2013 season. He made an impressive recovery to return in Week 13 of that season but looked like a completely different caliber of athlete. Crabtree had some success but he wasn't the same player from before. His sapped athleticism lingered into the 2014 season when Crabtree struggled to separate with the same ease as before while lacking the short-area explosiveness that made him so dangerous with the ball in his hands. Crabtree endured the worst season of his career and he was 26 at the time.
A torn Achilles should have a more significant impact on Smith. It's tougher to recover the older you get and Smith's athleticism was already in decline. That's not the only health concern though. Smith will be catching passes from a quarterback who tore his ACL midway through the 2015 season. Flacco tore his ACL and MCL in Week 10 of last season. For a quarterback who has had major footwork issues since winning the Super Bowl, a knee injury of that kind could have a ripple effect on his performances.