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Malcolm Smith picks up – and picks off – where he left off

Posted Aug 19, 2014

Sidelined following offseason ankle surgery, Malcolm Smith participated in all phases of practice for the first time on Tuesday and celebrated by making a one-handed interception that he returned for a touchdown.

“Turnover Thursday,” indeed. Not to mention “Throwback Thursday” on a Tuesday.

Malcolm Smith had it all covered on this Tuesday that was actually a Thursday for the Seahawks, as the MVP from their 43-8 romp over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII picked up – and picked off – where he left off despite taking his first snaps in full-team drills since before having offseason ankle surgery.

His one-handed interception took care of the turnover part. Smith’s return of the pick for a touchdown took care of the throwback part. And it all led to a welcome back Malcolm party that broke out in the end zone, as fellow linebackers Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Heath Farewell, Brock Coyle, Mike Morgan and Korey Toomer raced down the field to celebrate the return that underlined Smith’s return – as did All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas and even running back Christine Michael.

“I care about being a good teammate, and those guys do too,” Smith said of the impromptu Malcolm Fest that broke out in the end zone. “Especially in our (linebacker) room, we care about each other as men and as young guys growing up in the NFL. So it was good.”

So were the chants of “MVP. MVP. MVP.” by his teammates as Smith raced toward the end zone.

“I didn’t hear that,” he said with a smile.

But then Smith has not been your typical Super Bowl MVP. He did make it to Disney World the day after the Super Bowl for the traditional ride down Main Street with Mickey. There were a few TV appearances. But for the most part, it was an offseason as usual for Smith – other than that surgery on his ankle and recovery that followed, and lingered.

No Malcolm Smith Day in Northridge, Calif.?

“No, no Malcolm Smith Day,” he said. “There are a lot more famous people from where I’m from.”

Maybe so, but Wikipedia lists Smith among its “notable people” for Northridge, as well as Woodland Hills, where he attended Taft High School.  

Also count defensive coordinator Dan Quinn among those who were happy to see Smith not only return to all phases of practice, but turn in his notable return.

“That was a terrific play by him, going up and getting the ball,” Quinn said. “So yeah, it’s awesome to have him back out here.”

And, of course, make the type of play that became Smith’s calling card last season. Remember, it was Smith who was there in the zone – in the closing minutes – to intercept Richard Sherman’s “Immaculate Deflection” that iced the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers. And it also was Smith who returned an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

“One of the things that Malcolm brings to us is that speed and that athletic ability,” Quinn said. “I think that showed today on the interception that he had. That’s a typical play for Malcolm, which we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from him.”

Except for during this offseason and training camp, that is. Smith missed it all. And it wasn’t easy to stand and watch while his teammates prepared to defend the Super Bowl title he helped them win in such emphatic fashion.

“I’ve been itching,” Smith said. “I mean, you come off a pretty good game, we do some great stuff in the Super Bowl, and then just a lull for me. A lot of down time. A lot of watching. A lot of learning. Dealing with my own emotions and stuff every day. So it was good to get out here today and start moving around a little bit.”

Smith said the need to have surgery on his ankle “kind of caught me off guard.” And the fact that Smith had the procedure didn’t become public until May, when he was seen in a walking boot during the White House ceremony to salute the Super Bowl champs.

“They suggested I get it fixed and that was it,” he said. “It kind of took me a little longer than I was expecting to get back. But it’s not easy to come out here and play football.”

No matter how easy Smith has a tendency for making it look. 

The way Smith approached his recovery and rehab only earned him more points with his coaches.

“He’s worked really hard in his rehab, he really has,” Quinn said. “So for him, I know he’s been really anxious to get back and get going.”

And in this case, in Smith’s first full practice since before the Super Bowl, make that going, and going, and going.”