By Jim Rodenbush

Monday, May 24, 2010

Practice was over at Rams Park, but a couple of players had remained behind at the indoor facility and continued working together after the final horn sounded.

Taking the extra time were a pair of offensive tackles. Jason Smith was the teacher last Thursday, and was demonstrating various moves and techniques to rookie Rodger Saffold.

“We’re a family,” Smith said. “Big brothers are supposed to show little brothers how to cut their food. At the end of the day, we’re all just going to be one big happy family here, and make sure we’re working together on that goal, which is to be productive and win games.”

While Smith was happy to help out Saffold, the team’s second-round draft pick this year, he also was happy just to be back on a football field. Smith, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, missed the final six games of his rookie season because of a concussion.

“It feels really good being with the team,” he said. “Obviously, at the end of last year, I wasn’t able to be with them. For me, it feels great to be able to come out here and pull on this jersey for the Rams. I’m glad that we’re focused on a new season.”

Smith was injured Nov. 22 against Arizona and didn't play the rest of the season. He returned to practice during the final week, but did not suit up for the finale against San Francisco.

The 24-year-old is now medically cleared to play, and he participated in the first week of organized team activities, which resume on Monday. Smith said he is wearing a new helmet designed to protect against concussions, but otherwise does not give much thought to the injury.

“At the end of the day, if you’re just living your life right, a lot of this stuff you can avoid,” he said.

There will be changes for Smith in 2010. The 6-foot-5, 307-pounder will move to left tackle after playing on the right side as a rookie.

That means Smith will be the primary protector for a couple of new quarterbacks' blindside, veteran A.J. Feeley and rookie Sam Bradford.

“I played a little left tackle in college, and I was able, I guess, to be a little productive at it,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, it’s football. We’re all blocking for the quarterback. I’m just the one on the left.”

Smith promises to begin his second NFL season with a little less attention thanks to Bradford. When asked what advice he would offer the No. 1 overall pick, Smith said the rookie quarterback should keep things simple.

“It’s not rocket science,” he said. “Everybody outside has this picture of a first-round draft pick. But at the end of the day, you have to put pants on and your shoes on and play football. I’m happy that Sam is a part of my team. At the end of the day, he’s playing a valuable position. I get to be here and be a part of watching him grow.”

In the meantime, Smith will continue to seek out and help players such as Saffold because others did the same thing for him last year.

"We have a great group of veterans here, Adam Goldberg, Jason Brown, guys like that, who took their time with me and showed me how to be a professional on the field and off the field," he said. "I just really give them a lot of credit for the time they spent with me. Whether I was a draft pick or not, somebody had to grab me and show me how to do this stuff and take it to whole another level."