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Jason Smith Has Up, Down NFL Debut

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  • Jason Smith Has Up, Down NFL Debut

    Jason Smith has up, down NFL debut

    Jason Smith got a little bit of everything as an NFL rookie. But too much of injuries.

    Smith returned to practice this week but won't play in Sunday's season finale against San Francisco. After missing five games because of a concussion, a week's worth of practice simply isn't enough to get game ready.

    So when all is said and done, the rookie offensive tackle from Baylor will have played in only eight games this season, with five starts.

    At age 23, he already has learned a valuable lesson about his profession. Namely ...

    "Don't take the season, and playing football, for granted," Smith said. "Obviously, there's a lot of people that wish they were able to wake up every morning, let alone be able to play football. At the end of the day, I'm just happy I was able to wake up and be a part of this team."

    That is Smith's rather unorthodox way of saying he's just happy to be alive.

    Although Smith was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, nothing was handed to him by coach Steve Spagnuolo. Smith didn't move into the starting lineup until just before the regular-season opener.

    Certainly nothing was handed to him once the games started. In the season opener, against the Seahawks, Seattle rookie linebacker Aaron Curry came at Smith's knees low and late downfield after a run by Steven Jackson early in the first quarter. Those are the kinds of plays that can lead to blown-out knees. But Smith was OK, and Curry was fined by the NFL.

    Smith also gave up a sack to Lawrence Jackson in that game, and another — to Dwight Freeney — six weeks later against Indianapolis.

    But there were plenty of high spots. In Game 2, against Washington, a block by Smith sealed the edge on a 58-yard run by Jackson — his longest gain of the year. The play set up the Rams' first touchdown of the season and gave them their first lead of the season.

    In the first Arizona game, on Nov. 22, blocks by Smith and tight end Randy McMichael helped spring Jackson on a 48-yard run that set up a Rams field goal.

    The gain put Jackson over 1,000 yards for a franchise-record fifth consecutive season.

    But for every step forward this season, Smith seemed to take one back.

    Less than 1½ games into his NFL career, Smith suffered a knee injury before halftime of the Washington game.

    He missed the next two games entirely because of the injury then rotated in for three contests before regaining his starting job in Game 8, against Detroit. He flashed his aggressive run-blocking skills against the Lions and was solid in pass protection as well in a 17-10 Rams victory.

    Following the bye, he also started and played well in the next two games.

    "There was a time there when he slid in over there at right tackle and I thought the offensive line was kind of jelling before we ran into all these injuries," Spagnuolo said. "And he was a part of that; so that was a good thing."

    But just when Smith seemed to be settling in, he suffered the concussion. Just three plays after Jackson's long run Nov. 22 against Arizona, Smith took a knee to the head while attempting a cut block. That proved to be the last play of his rookie season.

    Coming right at the time the NFL was placing greater emphasis and scrutiny on concussions, it took Smith five weeks to get back on the practice field.

    "When things weren't right, I just wasn't able to pass'' the neurological exam, Smith said.

    He said he experienced "a combination of a lot of symptoms. Concussions do a lot of different things to you, and make you feel a lot of different ways. And they limit you in being able to do certain things physically."

    Smith couldn't play until he passed the neurological exam; he failed it more than once.

    And because of the league's new concussion guidelines, which came out in the middle of the season, Smith had to be cleared by an independent consultant as well as a Rams doctor before he could return to practice or games.

    As the weeks mounted, so did concerns about the severity of Smith's concussion and the possible long-term effects of the injury.

    Rams offensive guard Jacob Bell was sidelined almost a month during the preseason because of a concussion. But that injury received less notice, perhaps because it occurred in August.

    "I'm always concerned when it's a health issue and you're talking about the head," Spagnuolo said. "But I think the trainers, the doctors — everybody within the organization — handled it right. I think Jason handled it right. We were smart about it. And hopefully, going forward, it won't be an issue for him."

    As things now stand, Spagnuolo doesn't think Smith's concussion will factor into how the team approaches the tackle position during the offseason roster-shaping process.

    "I'm sure we'll do more things with him going forward, just to make sure everything's OK," Spagnuolo said. "We're going to plan ahead as if he's OK. I'm hopeful. I'm positive."

  • #2
    Re: Jason Smith Has Up, Down NFL Debut

    I hope he can stay healthy next season. He is the new big man after all!


    • #3
      Re: Jason Smith Has Up, Down NFL Debut

      more than hope, i pray that this doesnt become a routine for him.

      makes you appreciate alex barrons ability to not miss games, if only he didnt waste that talent.


      • #4
        Re: Jason Smith Has Up, Down NFL Debut

        Anyone else notice this is the second time Curry has been mentioned taking cheap shots at Rams players? (The first being the Jackson-Curry spat) I for one, was hoping we'd draft him last year, but he's our MLB has outplayed him, and whats with all the cheap shots? Gotta wonder if other teams had complaints about this too.

        Back on topic, I hope that Smith can bounce back next year. With him most likely moving back to the LT spot, and missing time his rookie season, he'll have more to adjust to than most second year tackles. Still, there's a reason the Rams drafted him, and I have faith he'll be productive until given adequate time to prove otherwise.


        • #5
          Re: Jason Smith Has Up, Down NFL Debut

          After missing five games because of a concussion, a week's worth of practice simply isn't enough to get game ready.
          Glad they are holding him out but this will be a concern moving foward.


          Related Topics


          • 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
            Smith OK After Hospital Visit
            by r8rh8rmike
            Smith OK After Hospital Visit
            Monday, November 30, 2009

            By Nick Wagoner
            Senior Writer

            Of all the injuries and ailments plaguing the Rams on Sunday against Seattle, it was one case of nausea on the sideline that perhaps caused the most concern.

            Rams tackle Jason Smith, inactive for the contest against the Seahawks because of lingering effects from a concussion suffered a week earlier against Arizona, was on the sideline watching the Rams and Seahawks on Sunday afternoon when he suddenly began to feel ill.

            Smith complained of a nauseous feeling that led to vomiting and light headedness. He was promptly whisked away to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis for tests and observation just before the start of the fourth quarter.

            “I was experiencing some things that weren’t real normal,” Smith said Monday afternoon. “I asked the doctors what’s going on with me. He said to take the proper precautions to what you feel and get you out of here to get you checked out. That’s what we did. I was sick and vomiting and wasn’t feeling good.”

            Because Smith is still recovering from the concussion he suffered last week, the doctors wanted to take a closer look and run a battery of tests that would determine if or how the nausea related to his concussion symptoms.

            The good news, revealed by coach Steve Spagnuolo and athletic trainer Jim Anderson on Monday afternoon, is that Smith passed all of those tests with nothing out of the ordinary showing up on them.

            Smith said Monday there was no hard evidence from his CAT scan that the symptoms he suffered from on Sunday were a direct result of his concussion. In fact, Smith says he was never told that the two were related though that remained a possibility.

            “They tested me on a couple of different things,” Smith said. “They never said it was because of the concussion. It was like something was wrong with your stomach or whatever.”

            At the conclusion of those tests, Smith was released from the hospital and allowed to return home Sunday evening.

            “It sounds like he’s OK which is a good thing,” Spagnuolo said.

            Before Sunday, Smith said he had awoken feeling different every day but had not yet felt illness like he did on Sunday.
            As with most concussions, there are variety of symptoms that go along with the injury. In some cases, those symptoms can be triggered by various factors.

            For instance, basketball star Blake Griffin suffered a concussion while playing for Oklahoma last year and complained that it was made worse by attending a home game he wasn’t playing in by the myriad lights and loud noises in the arena that night.

            “There are all kinds of symptoms that happen with a concussion,” Smith said. “They say noise and they say lights but obviously you having one, you feel all those things. It...
            -12-01-2009, 11:52 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
          • 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...
            -06-07-2009, 08:30 AM
          • RamWraith
            Smith gets a chance to start with Rams
            by RamWraith
            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
            -08-07-2006, 05:00 AM