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Smith gets a chance to start with Rams

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  • Smith gets a chance to start with Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    Sunday, Aug. 06 2006

    Paul Smith came into the NFL as an unheralded fifth-round pick out of Texas-El

    In six NFL seasons with San Francisco and Detroit, he has only one touchdown on
    his resume.

    A fullback-halfback 'tweener, his very modest career totals are 210 yards
    rushing and 182 yards receiving. To put that in perspective, Marshall Faulk has
    topped those rushing and receiving totals in a single game.

    Fittingly, Smith joined the Rams with no fanfare May 6, signing a one-year deal
    paying him $585,000 in base salary.

    And at Saturday's scrimmage, when the Rams' offensive unit broke the huddle for
    its first play - there was Smith, again minus the fanfare, with the starters.

    "I guess they like what I've done at practice," Smith, 28, said. "I'm happy for
    the opportunity to do that. Hopefully, I'll run with it and do well."

    Smith learned Friday that he would work with the starting unit - ahead of last
    year's Rams starter, Madison Hedgecock.

    Kind of made your day, right?

    "Oh yeah," Smith said. "It made my whole year."

    Whether Smith holds on to the job remains to be seen. But he has clearly made
    an impression with coach Scott Linehan and his staff.

    "A fullback's role is a thankless job," Linehan said. "Paul comes out every
    day, and he tries to put it right on the numbers and put a guy on his back. And
    that's what you're looking for. Plus, he has the ability to catch the ball."

    Previously, Smith had carved out a niche for himself in the NFL as a hard-nosed
    special teams player.

    "I've always been the wedge-buster, things like that," Smith said. "Setting the
    tempo for games. Sticking my nose in there on lead blocks and things like that."

    Over the years, Smith has gotten a few chances at halfback and fullback, for
    three seasons with Steve Mariucci in San Francisco, and then following Mariucci
    to Detroit in 2003.

    Smith has been slowed by injuries at times. He missed five weeks in 2002 in San
    Francisco with a hamstring injury. He missed the entire 2004 season in Detroit
    with a shoulder injury.

    On the field, whether it was at halfback or fullback, Smith rarely touched the
    football. In 55 NFL games, he has only 46 carries and 18 receptions. His career
    high in receptions - five - came in '03, when Smith's Lions upset the Rams
    30-20 in a regular-season finale that cost St. Louis home-field advantage in
    the playoffs.

    But playing fullback, Smith says, "is not about stats. What your running back
    does, his stats, you kind of take pride in that. If he's doing well, that means
    you're doing well. So that's kind of how you've got to see it. A fullback's
    kind of like a glorified offensive lineman."

    Smith's only career starts came last season in Detroit. With normal starter
    Cory Schlesinger out with a fractured leg, Smith started the first five games.
    With Mariucci gone, Detroit did not re-sign Smith once his contract expired
    last March and he became an unrestricted free agent.

    But in St. Louis, Smith had an ally on the coaching staff in offensive
    coordinator Greg Olson, who had worked with Smith as an assistant coach in San
    Francisco and Detroit.

    "So he was really familiar with what I can bring on the field," Smith said.
    "When he found out that Detroit was (not re-signing) me, he gave me a call and
    was trying to work a deal out to get me here."

    And here he is.

    "It's a good opportunity," said Smith, who's 5-11, 234 pounds. "I'm not a real
    big guy, but I'm able to move in and out in front of the block. It's a great
    offense for a fullback like myself."

    But it's only August. The challenge now is to keep what would be his first
    full-time starting assignment as an NFL player.

    "You're always working to keep your job," Smith said. "Especially in the
    'League.' At any time, you can be the man. The next day, you may not be the
    man. It's just the way the business is."

  • #2
    Re: Smith gets a chance to start with Rams

    Does the person that doesnt get the starting job gets cut? Cause usually teams dont carrie more than 1 FB. And I think the Rams have 3 right now. Smith, Hedgecock, Massey


    • #3
      Re: Smith gets a chance to start with Rams

      Massey is the Long Snapper, you can't really consider him a FB since he doesn't play it for us in games. But I believe that if Paul Smith is the Starting Fullback for right now he deserved it and the coaches know a heck of alot more than do I. I hope also like you guys that we don't cut Hedgecock.


      • #4
        Re: Smith gets a chance to start with Rams

        Good question, I wouldn't cut either of 'em. Both Smith and Hedge can bring it on Special Teams and we still need all the help we can get there. Plus it appears Smitty can play some running back also. So how about a lineup of Jax, Fisher as the first two Rb's with Smith as the 3rd RB and Smith as the the #1 FB and Hedge as #2 FB. This way we still only keep 5 Rb's (3 Rb's and 2Fb's). With Smith rotating between both roles we can actually save a roster spot (good-bye Moe?) and still keep both excellent players for the ST's.

        WHAT SAY YE?


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        • RamWraith
          Smith Takes Long Road to St. Louis
          by RamWraith
          Saturday, May 12, 2007

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          By now, almost everybody knows the incredible story of the No. 13 that came to camp with the Rams as a long shot and left as a legend. This story isn’t about that player and the ending has yet to be written, but if it’s ending is anything close to the last one, it will be every bit as heartwarming and just as incredible.

          Throwing on the No. 13 practice jersey would seem like bad luck considering the negative connotation that goes with the number. In St. Louis, it’s a number revered for what quarterback Kurt Warner once did with it on his back.

          This weekend, at the Rams’ rookie minicamp, the next in the line of players to pull that jersey over the shoulder pads is taking aim at being the next undrafted rookie free agent makes good story.

          His name is Shaine Smith. At 6’2, 189 pounds, he cuts a lean, almost lanky shadow that lets you know immediately that he is a wide receiver. At first glance, Smith seems like normal camp fodder, a player who looks the part, but might never get past the training camp stage of the NFL offseason.

          But Smith’s journey to St. Louis has been anything but normal. Some would call it arduous, others might say difficult and some might not believe you if you told them.

          “I have come a long way from where I have been and I tell ya, it’s hard to say I am in a Rams uniform right now, it’s hard to fathom,” Smith said. “But I worked hard and I always believed and dreamed I would be able to do this.”

          Smith had a relatively normal upbringing in San Diego. Although his parents had separated when he was young and his family didn’t have a whole lot of money, Smith was able to make his way through school while excelling on the football field.

          Before he could make the next step to college football, though, things began to unravel around him. In 2000, Smith’s mother, Lorraine Taylor, lost her job working at an insurance company in San Diego.

          Without that source of income, she was no longer able to pay the rent and provide for Smith and his younger half-brother, Trevor. For the next two months that trio began bouncing around San Diego with no place to call home.

          They stayed in hotels when Taylor could afford it, but set up in Taylor’s Honda Civic just as often. Three people in a tiny, four-door car was hardly the ideal living situation.

          When Matthew Smith, Shaine’s father, heard about the situation, he set out to find a way to help his son. The only problem was Shaine was on the other side of the country. Matthew Smith lived in Queens, N.Y., and fought to get Shaine to join him.

          Smith resisted, opting to live with his football coach and some family friends for two months before finally relenting and moving to be with his father. It was the middle of Smith’s junior season when he caved...
          -05-12-2007, 07:13 PM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Smith Progressing Well
          by r8rh8rmike
          Smith Progressing Well
          Tuesday, August 18, 2009

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          After almost every practice since the Rams made him the No. 2 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Jason Smith can be found out on the practice field doing two things.

          First and foremost, Smith has made a habit of staying after practice to work with offensive line coaches Art Valero and Steve Loney on something he feels needed improvement from the just-completed workout.

          When that is done, about 20 minutes later, Smith can be found hauling around the pads of his veteran teammates.

          “It’s what I am but I am not doing it just to be doing it,” Smith said. “It’s something that I need to work on that day technically or physically. There’s always something to work on.”

          Such is the life of a rookie in the NFL. And while those parts of it are normal, Smith’s approach to the game is anything but.

          The Rams completed their final two a day practice of this year’s training camp on Tuesday afternoon. With that, the team is almost halfway through the preseason and Smith’s development process is in full swing.

          From the moment he arrived in St. Louis, plenty of people have placed some weighty expectations on Smith but the coaching staff has ignored that and asked Smith to earn his position.

          Until Tuesday, Smith had extremely limited repetitions with the first team offense as he has worked almost exclusively as the second-team right tackle behind Adam Goldberg.

          Nothing has been handed to him and Smith has asked for nothing in return. Instead, Smith is lapping up every opportunity to learn the game from his veteran teammates.

          Nary a player has been more helpful in that regard than Goldberg. Although Goldberg and Smith are technically competing for the job at right tackle, neither seems too concerned with beating out the other.

          Quite the opposite, in fact.

          “I take that as part of my role but I tell you what, he doesn’t need too many tips,” Goldberg said. “He’s going to be a really good football player and he’s a great person too, the kind of guy that you like to help out because he works hard, doesn’t take anything for granted, takes good notes, asks good questions. So he’s the type of young player that you want to help and want to see succeed.”

          The modest Goldberg won’t take much credit for helping Smith learn the nuances of the NFL but Smith is quick to credit Goldberg for stepping into the mentor role.

          “I feel that if Goldberg wasn’t here I would have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off,” Smith said. “What is the competition? The competition is Rams vs. whoever we play. It’s not amongst each other. Obviously we are going to make each other better by communicating things we see but if he wasn’t here, how far along would I...
          -08-18-2009, 08:23 PM
        • RamWraith
          Smith Hopes for Strong Start
          by RamWraith
          Wednesday, May 3, 2006

          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          Perhaps more than any of the Rams’ free agent signings, linebacker Raonall Smith wanted to take his time and make the right choice.

          After the initial wave of free agency where players would rarely be allowed to leave their first visit, Smith wanted to make sure he found the proper match.

          Smith talked with plenty of teams, including Green Bay and about a possible return to Minnesota. But in the end, there was one thing that led Smith to St. Louis.

          “The opportunity,” Smith said. “They have a great team here obviously. A lot of strong offensive components, they have added a lot of defensive components. The opportunity to come in here and compete for a starting job. I’m familiar with Coach Linehan and some of the other coaches so it seemed like a pretty good fit.”

          That opportunity had been something denied to Smith with the Vikings for a variety of reasons, none more so than his propensity to come up injured. Minnesota used a second-round draft choice on Smith in 2002.

          Coming from Washington State, Smith was expected to help the Vikings’ ailing linebacker corps. Those expectations never materialized into reality, though. He injured his shoulder just before his rookie season, costing him the entire year.

          In 2003 and 2004, he played in only 14 games because of a hamstring injury and a concussion.

          “Everybody needs their health,” Smith said.

          Nobody needs it more than Smith, though. He finally got the opportunity to be on the field in 2005 when he played in all 16 games, more than he had played in his first three years combined.

          Along the way, he had six starts and racked up 30 tackles and a sack. He proved even more valuable on special teams where he had 21 tackles and a pair of fumble recoveries.

          When the time came to make a decision on his future, Smith turned to a familiar face in Rams coach Scott Linehan. Linehan knew Smith from his time as offensive coordinator in Minnesota.

          “At some point in his career, Raonall had made some errors, like a lot of young players do,” Linehan said. “But he always seemed to make plays: get a ball out, recover a fumble, make a key tackle on a kickoff. He's one of those guys that has a knack.”

          That knack was enough to land Smith a one-year contract with the Rams, where he will instantly be given an opportunity to compete for an expanded role. After signing Will Witherspoon to take over in the middle and with Pisa Tinoisamoa entrenched as the starter on the weak side, the Rams have an opening for a starter on the strong side.

          “They said the strong side is open and there will be a competition for it,” Smith said. “Nobody is going to be handed the starting job so it seemed like a pretty good fit. I have played the strong side; we are going to be...
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        • MauiRam
          Smith Settling In ..
          by MauiRam
          By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

          Entering his third year in the NFL, Rams tackle Jason Smith has moved well beyond the expectations set for him by those outside of the team.

          Smith says his full attention is dedicated not to meeting some sort of lofty expectations that are inherent with his draft status. Rather, Smith is aiming only to meet the goals he sets for himself and meet the needs of the team.

          “It’s one of those deals where other people make a scenario up for you,” Smith said. “But for me, I just look at it the same; it’s football and I want to be the best I can be at it.”

          There have been plenty of ups and downs in Smith’s relatively short career but many believe that the third year is the time for a player to make his move.

          In this training camp, the coaching staff has been pleased with Smith’s progress, especially considering that though his media guide bio says he’s in his third year, he’s really only working with about a year and a half of experience.

          It’s helped that Smith has been able to settle in at the right tackle spot where he’s been tasked with facing one of the league’s emerging pass rushers in Chris Long every day in practice.

          Long has been one of the Rams’ best players in camp according to coach Steve Spagnuolo and he’s pushed Smith to improve his pass protection.

          “You are playing a position and playing a game and the more you are doing it, the more comfortable you are getting, the more patience you are gaining, the more ability you have to do your job,” Smith said. “And I am going against Chris Long every day. This guy is a workhorse and I feel like I have become a better tackle going against him and understanding what I’m doing.”

          Taken with the second overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, Smith was expected to step right in and dominate as a left tackle. That’s the job most view as commensurate with being selected that high and made even more difficult for Smith by those expecting him to be the next Orlando Pace.

          Smith’s rookie season was derailed by injuries, though, including an early season knee injury and a concussion that ended his season. All told, he played just eight games with five starts and just when it appeared he was settling in, he suffered the concussion.

          “Obviously I have had some stumbling blocks in my career with a couple of injuries here and there but I trained and feel like I had a great offseason,” Smith said. “I am sound in my faith in God and I don’t see myself wavering from anything I know to do.”

          Finally able to get on the field and stay there in 2010, Smith made strides as he settled in on the right side with then-rookie Rodger Saffold on the left.

          In 15 games (he missed one with a concussion issue), Smith allowed four sacks according to STATSPASS as the Rams trimmed their total sacks allowed by 10 as quarterback...
          -08-22-2011, 12:32 PM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Rams' Jason Smith Returns Healthy
          by r8rh8rmike
          Rams' Jason Smith returns healthy

          BY JIM THOMAS
          Friday, April 20, 2012

          Jason Smith feels great. He's happy. He's excited. And he's back on the football field.

          He can see clearly now, literally. He has full range of motion in his neck. He can turn fully from side to side. He can drive himself to work or the store.

          That wasn't the case following a nasty concussion he suffered Oct. 23 in Dallas attempting to tackle Cowboys safety Abram Elam as Elam was returning a lost fumble by Cadillac Williams.

          It was the second major concussion of Smith's three-year NFL career. He was done for the season, and some wondered if he was done for his career. At the very least, some wondered if he would be back with the Rams, who had chosen him No. 2 overall in the 2009 draft.

          "The reality was, it was a freakish accident," Smith said. "But the great thing is: What is it now? It's just the past. It's something I had to go through. I'm excited to be back walking. Feeling good. Wife not having to drive me around. There's a lot of things I'm just excited about."

          The entire process tested his religious faith, and at the same time strengthened that faith.

          "That's what it's supposed to do," Smith said. "Affliction is supposed to make you stronger. If it makes you weaker there's something wrong with you. So it made me stronger."

          So Smith is excited about the new regime at Rams Park, from general manager Les Snead, to head coach Jeff Fisher, to his new offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. He likes the positive energy of new tight end Matt Mulligan and the savvy of new center Scott Wells. He likes the leadership being shown by running back Steven Jackson and quarterback Sam Bradford.

          "I'm happy they decided to keep me around," Smith said. "So I'm a new face. I'm a new type of guy here."

          Who knows what the draft will bring, and what that could mean to Smith. What if Matt Kalil of Southern California drops to the Rams at No. 6 overall? What if there's an offensive tackle in a later round the team feels compelled to take?

          But for now it looks likes Smith is out of the woods in terms of remaining a Ram. He's approaching this opportunity with a clear head — physically and mentally — and a new lease on life.

          "I have a new outlook on life by faith," Smith said. "Write that. I'm so happy. It's hard to explain."

          Smith not only wants to be a better player, he says he needs to be a better teammate.

          "I want to work on my relationship with the players to become a better teammate, a better friend in some areas," Smith said. "I need to be more fluid and relaxed. I need to relax and play ball, and stop thinking. There's no reason for anyone to walk around stuck-up...
          -04-20-2012, 09:06 AM