Does that make the 24-year-old Smith a common-law player? No, just a versatile one who has done everything asked of him, and then some, since being selected with a compensatory pick in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
As a rookie, the 6-foot, 226-pound Smith played primarily on special teams and had 11 coverage tackles to tie safety
Now, he just might be playing his way into the starting linebacker spot on the strong side.
“He has tremendous athleticism. His speed shows up all the time. He’s a playmaker. He’s real smart in our system. He’s versatile. He’s doing a great job on special teams, too. He’s a real strength of that group because of his versatility and exceptional coverage ability.”
All of that was on display during Monday’s practice when, on back-to-back plays, Smith arrived at quarterback
The coaches have other options at strong-side linebacker.
But the coaches know with Smith that they’ll get everything he’s got on every play. Even when making the transition to the strong side.
“It was a big move for him to go to the end of the line,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said Tuesday after practice of Smith now being at the end of, and closer to, the line of scrimmage. “He’s always played behind the ball. So we challenged him.
“You really couldn’t tell in the OTAs (this spring) just because of the style of we play. Now that the preseason has been here, and he’s playing in pads and against tight ends and fullbacks, he’s done a good job of that.”