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  • Smith Progressing Well

    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 be? I am really privileged to have Goldberg here because he’s a great guy and he’s a good veteran and he’s taken me under his wing and showed me what I need to do to be a professional.”

    While Goldberg is able to give Smith pointers and help him in the meetings rooms, he isn’t the only one providing valuable advice to the rookie from Baylor.

    Defensive end Leonard Little is regularly schooling Smith on the finer points of how to block both on the field and off.

    In many instances during camp, whether in team drills or one on one pass rush work, Little has been matched up against Smith. With 81 career sacks and blinding quickness off the edge, Little is one of the most accomplished pass rushers in the NFL.

    More often than not, Little has gotten the best of Smith but with every play and passing practice, Smith seems to be narrowing the gap.

    “It’s made me understand the speed of the game fast,” Smith said. “I give Leonard a lot of credit for taking his time with me as well. He will just beat me and then he will explain to me how he beat me. He does that a lot. And he will let me know if I did a good job, a good job staying square with the hands and good patience. Or he will let me know if I have bad patience and he’ll tell me ‘Take your time, take your time.’”

    In addition to the increased speed he has run into at the NFL level, Smith says the biggest adjustment for him has been learning the technique and the fundamentals that are required of every offensive lineman in the league.

    During his final season or so at Baylor, Smith played in a two-point stance in the Bears’ spread offense. In other words, he was essentially standing up already which gave him a bit of a head start on his footwork against pass rushers.

    Since the Rams don’t run that style of offense, Smith has had to get re-acclimated to the three-point stance and putting his hand on the ground before every play. That has made him a bit susceptible in pass blocking, particularly on inside moves.

    Like everything else, though, Smith continues to improve with every practice and repetition.

    “It’s like riding a bike,” Smith said. “Putting your hand in the dirt is how football started. Somewhere along the line I had my hand in the dirt somewhere. Just the last year or so in college I didn’t really have my hand in the dirt but it’s all the same. You play football with your hands, your feet and your eyes and your heart. As long as you got that down, whether your hand is in the dirt or not, you just play football.”

    In his first live NFL action against the Jets last week, Smith said the film showed he did some things “exceptional” and some “not so exceptional.” If nothing else, it’s clear that Smith has plenty aggressiveness and gusto for run blocking.

    “He is a guy that will bring a lot of youthful enthusiasm and a spark to the offensive line,” Loney said. “He’s been an excellent leader in the past. He’s a physical player, but the learning curve is going to speed up for him right now, so he is going to have to take his attributes and keep applying those to the things he is learning to make himself a real positive impact on this team.”

    That learning curve could be accelerated even further in this week’s second preseason game against Atlanta.

    Smith came into the game in the second quarter in New York last week but because of some swelling in the knee of left tackle Alex Barron, Smith might be pressed into action as a starter against the Falcons.

    In Tuesday’s two practices, Smith stepped in with the first team at right tackle for an entire practice for the first time with Goldberg shifting over to the left. Coach Steve Spagnuolo says should Barron be unable to go, the Rams will take their time and figure out a plan but as it stands, Smith is preparing himself to play no matter the circumstance or set up.

    “The great thing about playing the game of football is whether you are a starter or not, you are a starter,” Smith said. “The guy in front of you is one play away from never playing the game again. You are one play away from never playing the game again. So take every moment and cherish it because the NFL stands for not for long.”

  • #2
    Re: Smith Progressing Well

    Good read. I have a great feeling about this youngster Smith! :helmet:

    Thanks Mike for the article.


    • #3
      Re: Smith Progressing Well

      Before the draft I was all aboard the Eugene Monroe bandwagon, but since we have drafted Jason Smith he has really won me over with his outstanding work ethic and attitude. Time will tell how he performs on the field, but I am a firm believer that good things happen to good, hard working people.

      I also am a big fan of Spags making him earn the starting job. Nothing is being handed to anybody. It sounds like the Rams are becoming a blue collar team and that is music to my ears. It takes hard work and discipline to win in this league and I think thats what Spags is trying to bring to town.


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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...
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      • r8rh8rmike
        Smith Learning The Ropes
        by r8rh8rmike
        Smith Learning the Ropes
        Saturday, June 6, 2009

        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        Jason Smith earned his recreation and leisure studies degree from Baylor in May of 2008. But make no mistake, his education is ongoing.

        In the whirlwind that is the buildup to the NFL Draft, including the scouting combine, the senior bowl and countless pro days, rare is the opportunity for a young player to come up for air.

        And once the player is draft, it doesn’t get any easier. Nobody knows that better than Smith, who along with his Rams teammates, is now just six organized team activities away from finally putting a cap on his first NFL offseason.

        In Smith’s case, part of the education that’s occurring on the field and in the meeting rooms is coming from a somewhat unlikely source: his competition.

        While Smith is getting plenty of help from the coaching staff and other linemen, Adam Goldberg, the player who Smith will likely eventually replace in the starting lineup at right tackle, has been among Smith’s most ardent supporters.

        Goldberg, who is well respected by teammates and coaches for his tremendous work ethic and intelligence, has left no stone unturned in helping Smith develop.

        “A lot of the things are just linemen stuff – the balancing and knowing the playbook as far as different protections,” Smith said. “Three-step, Five-step. Quick sets, drop sets. A lot of stuff. And Goldberg is helping me understand everything.”

        “I know that Adam Goldberg’s a great guy. He’s a great leader on and off the field. He talks to all us rookies about things we need to know as far as being productive and staying on the good side of the coaches.”

        As the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, there’s a certain amount of expectations that have long since been heaped on Smith’s shoulders. That’s high end real estate to take any player and offensive tackles selected that high have names like Pace, Ogden and Jones.

        Those players were so talented and polished that the teams drafting them immediately inserted them into the starting lineup and left them on an island to tango with some of the best pass rushers the league had to offer.

        So far, at least, it doesn’t appear that approach will be duplicated with Smith. In the organized team activities and pair of minicamps Smith has participated in, he’s worked exclusively with the second team.

        That’s part of a philosophy coach Steve Spagnuolo believes in as far as not throwing rookies into the fire before they’re ready and one that Smith completely understands.

        “That’s football,” Smith said. “Nothing’s given to you when you’re on the football field. The great thing about being an offensive lineman is I understand that. There’s a lot of work that has to be done in order for me to, No. 1, be a part of this team. And then...
        -06-06-2009, 09:47 PM
      • RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Smith takes his tasks seriously
        by RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Smith takes his tasks seriously

        By Jim Thomas

        It has been six weeks since the Rams made Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. For most of the past five weeks, he has been plying his trade at Rams Park, in the weight room, the meeting room, and on the practice field.

        So when asked if he's settled in yet — to St. Louis, and to life at Rams Park — Smith answers with the world view of a 22-year-old.

        "Yeah, I'm settled in," Smith replied. "I'm over at the Holiday Inn right now. The bed's made up every day. The air conditioning's cold. I don't have any bills coming in. I'm loving it.

        So far, NFL life is good for Smith, a 306-pound bundle of energy and optimism. When asked if he eventually will buy a place in St. Louis, Smith replied: "I'm thinking about buying a Holiday Inn, you know what I mean? And just living there."

        Once he signs his first NFL contract — and there's little taking place on that front yet — Smith should have enough money to buy a hotel. For now, he's going about the business of earning his keep on the football field.

        "Jason's doing great," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "We've had a chance to work him on both sides, and he's a guy that's going to be a real good player. He's working hard, he's developing, and we're looking forward to see how it carries over to training camp."

        After spending his first month at right tackle, which remains his likely destination on opening day, Smith was shifted to left tackle this past week. Should something happen to Alex Barron on the left side, Smith could be the Rams' next option there during the regular season.

        "We're going to try to have some versatility at tackle," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

        It's difficult to make broad assumptions in the spring, particularly with linemen, because there is next to no contact during OTAs (organized team activities) and minicamps, and the players aren't in full pads. But Spagnuolo already has seen enough of Smith to conclude that he has the mental makeup and approach to become a successful NFL blocker.

        "He doesn't blink at all when he goes on either side (of the line), or we give him something new," Spagnuolo said. "He's a tremendous worker, and a respectful guy. He gets it. That's the best thing I can say is he gets it."

        Some players never get it. But Smith seems to realize that the small things, the details, the technique work can turn decent players into good ones, and good players into great ones in the NFL.

        "That's one thing I've learned about this level is that it's a lot of small details that you don't really know much about until you get here," Smith said. "Football's a game that...
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      • r8rh8rmike
        Rams' Jason Smith Returns Healthy
        by r8rh8rmike
        Rams' Jason Smith returns healthy

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

        By Nick Wagoner
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        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