“The coaches have done a great job of staying on me on that day after day, each drill,” Smith says. “Every step I take, they’re always on me. I told them to make sure they stay on me to keep me going.”
It’s not that Smith needs any extra motivation, it just never hurts to stack the odds in your favor.
The way linebacker
“I already think he does (belong there),” Dansby said. “ He just hasn’t finished some of the plays that he’s supposed to finish or he would have been there. That’s what I told him two years ago and now he’s starting to see it and he’s starting to walk it and he’s starting to believe, he’s starting to sacrifice and do the right things that he needs to do to dedicate himself to this game. He’s a stud. He’s a stud. No doubt about it. No doubt about it.”
Smith unquestionably is unique when it comes to NFL cornerbacks, starting with the fact he’s unusually tall for the position at 6 feet 3.
He has started 40 games in his three seasons with the Dolphins since being a second-round selection in the 2009 draft and has come up with three interceptions, including a career-high two last season.
There’s little doubt Smith will benefit from the arrival of Kevin Coyle as defensive coordinator, considering Coyle previously coached the defensive backs in Cincinnati.
“He’s always there throwing in his little two cents,” Smith said with a smile. “Coyle is a technician, that’s the biggest thing. He’s going to teach technique and fundamentals. He wants you to take the proper steps, the proper alignment and everything. In the end, it’s good for us because when you’re tired in that fourth quarter and fatigue kicks in and all that, you definitely want your fundamentals to kick in.”
As an added bonus, longtime NFL cornerback Al Harris has been serving as a guest coach this spring and he’s also been giving Smith some pointers.
Smith, in turn, has taken on the role of mentor to some of the team’s younger cornerbacks, such as
There’s something else very different about Smith this year, and that’s the disappearance of his trademark braids.
While Smith explained that getting rid of the braids came after some told him maybe it was time for him to grow up, he quickly added: “I’m always going to be myself, but I do understand I have younger players at the corner position who look up to me, so l try and help them out as far as the playbook and how to play certain techniques and things like that.”
In Smith and
Davis proclaimed last summer that there wasn’t a better duo in the league, and Smith has no issue with that claim.
“That’s what we believe,” Smith said. “In practice we see it and in our work ethic, when you watch film and the way we prepare and everything, that’s how we feel. What he said, I’m definitely fine with that and we’re not worried about any other additional opinions or media or anything like that.”
These days, Smith is just concerned with getting acclimated with the new defensive system, a system he says allows the players to perform without having to do too much thinking.
“Right now we’re going over the basics and fundamentals, so it’s real watered down,” Smith said. “There’s not too much going on, but from what I’ve seen, it’s real simple. It allows guys to play fast. There’s not too much thinking going on, so when you have guys running around and making plays, it’s going to be good for us.
“We have a bunch of playmakers on this defense, so it should be good.”
Count Smith among that group of playmakers. He’s gotten his hands on a lot of footballs in his three seasons with the Dolphins and could be ready for a bust-out season.
Dansby sure thinks so. He sees a different guy this spring — on and off the field.
“Man, all the way around, all the way around,” Dansby said. “That’s a hundred million dollar man you’re talking (about). That’s how I look at it. That’s how I view him. He’s in a whole other category as far as talent and the position he plays on the field and the things he can do on the field.
“I kept honing that into him all last season, all offseason and now he’s taking heed to it and he’s starting to feel it himself. He’s starting to see it. He’s starting to put it on film. He’s starting to walk it.”