Andre Smith. We could go through the troubling history of the offensive tackle starting two years when he was suspended during the 2009 Sugar Bowl after reportedly having "improper dealings" with an agent. Isn't that like 99% of all college football violations these days? He would later go to the NFL Combine, promptly bailing the event without telling his agent or the NFL of his departure. That was after he reportedly had terrible interviews with NFL teams before conducting workouts. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't pretty at all. His draft stock depressed quicker than common decency when Joey Buttafuoco actually thought it was a good idea to release a porn tape.
When Alabama had their Pro Day, Smith brought to the show an absolutely poor workout that included bench pressing 225 pounds only 19 times; for an offensive lineman that's entering the NFL, that's not very impressive. Unfortunately for Smith, this was the same day that the entire NFL community would be scarred forever, sprinting the 40-yard dash without a shirt on. In between all of that, Smith would shuffle agents to help his draft status after Keels, originally representing Smith, was let go after Smith's terrible Combine experience in favor of Rick Smith. Once Smith was drafted, Rick Smith was fired and Keels was re-hired to negotiate Smith's rookie contract, which took over a month to finally have resolution.
A broken foot two days after signing a contract severely limited his role in 2009, mostly being relegated as the sixth offensive lineman in jumbo packages. During February of this year, Smith would have a procedure done to strengthen his foot, hoping to prevent future breaks. Unfortunately, the expected 10-week rehabilitation time turned into a process that would have Smith missing his second training camp. Marvin Lewis, who tends to let slip his sometimes surly frustrations, said that Alabama wasn't being straight with him.
Head coach Marvin Lewis was non-too-pleased, saying:
“Andre’s going to figure out how to become a pro and do things the way it’s asked to do all the time. Hopefully he continues to do it in a timely fashion. Because otherwise, I’m not going to go through this year in and year out.”
Aside from being listed as inactive during the third week of the season against the Carolina Panthers, Smith's snap count has been between 10-12 snaps with an expanded role against the Cleveland Browns, having over 20 snaps on the offensive line.
All of that being said, Lewis' tone on Smith is changing.
“I think as the back of my shirt will say, ‘Work to do.’ He’s grown up a lot this year, and hopefully he continues to and work as a player and help make us a better football team -- keep working at it. Today’s another opportunity to get better. I like the positive steps he’s taken. I like how he’s grown up as a man and as a pro, and that’s a good thing. The team wants him to succeed; he has advocates who want to see him succeed.”
The Bengals are needing Smith to grow, and fast. Recent play by the team's right tackle, Dennis Roland, is leaving way too much to be desired. While we could praise the level of talent on this team, the offensive line is a group that's regressed since last year and the offense's biggest liability.