Focus on: Jared Smith

Posted Aug 1, 2013

This summer’s defensive line-to-offensive line transition for assistant head coach Tom Cable centers on Jared Smith, who was drafted in the seventh round – just like J.R. Sweezy, last year’s project.

As radical transitions go, Jared Smith’s is going better than most could have expected. Including Smith.

That’s the same Jared Smith who played defensive tackle at the University of New Hampshire. The same Jared Smith who was selected in the seventh round of April’s NFL Draft with the idea of moving him to the offensive line. The same Jared Smith who is playing center on the No. 3 line during the Seahawks training camp.

Obviously, little is the same for Smith, who is as affable when asked about all this newness in his life as he is flexible about what’s being asked of him.

“It’s definitely going well,” Smith said after Thursday’s practice, and after spending extra time following practice working with backup quarterback Brady Quinn. “I mean you have days you don’t really do too well, but I have to understand this is a process. They’re not expecting me to go out and start right away.

“So I’m just listening to the coaches, taking notes, talking to the vets, watching every single rep to get mental reps and just getting better. I’m definitely improving. I just have to continue improving day to day.”

There are the occasional mistakes, like almost following the D-linemen to their meeting room.

“I actually do,” Smith said with a laugh. “But I definitely like it more than playing D-line for some reason.”

Smith then paused briefly before adding, “I never thought I’d ever hear myself say that. But yeah, I definitely love what I do.”

Smith is the second D-lineman to be drafted and moved to offense in the past two years. Last year, it was J.R. Sweezy, who started the season opener and the final four games at right guard and is now sharing reps on the No. 1 line with John Moffitt. Smith is backing up Lemuel Jeanpierre, who is the backup to All-Pro center Max Unger.

The decision to try Smith on the O-line followed the same pattern that landed Sweezy there. One of the Seahawks’ scouts saw something that prompted the plan. The club then dispatched assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable to find out if he saw the same thing.

“I thought Tom did an incredible job,” coach Pete Carroll said of the work Cable did to get Sweezy not only ready to play in a game, but start games. “It’s a remarkable accomplishment, as we talked about last year, just to get to play at all.”

Now, along comes the 6-foot-4, 302-pound Smith, and at a new position that calls for even more because the center must do more – like making the pre-snap line calls after reading the defensive front.

“There are more things going on,” is the way Carroll put it. “So I think that it will take him a little bit longer, but he can play the position. He made a really good first impression in the first part of camp and we are excited.”

The best indication of how things are going is obvious in this assessment from Smith: “I love it. If I could go back and play defense, I probably wouldn’t do it. Just because of the fact that I love doing what I’m doing.”