Here we go again. The persistent thought ramming its dull edges against my mind like an unkempt sword (totally not named Ice) surfaced after watching Bengals starting right tackle Andre Smith remain on the ground early during Cincinnati's 35-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Eventually Smith's ankle injury forced him to miss the rest of the game and the following weeks against Houston and St. Louis with the very serviceable and starter-worthy Anthony Collins taking his place. Smith made his return against the Arizona Cardinals last weekend, taking part in all 72 snaps, not allowing a quarterback pressure and scoring a season-high run blocking score of 2.9 (Pro Football Talk).
Though he missed two games, Smith has allowed as many quarterback sacks and quarterback pressures as the annual Pro Bowl snub Andrew Whitworth this season. Additionally of the starters that played against the Arizona Cardinals last weekend, Smith is graded as the team’s second-best offensive lineman behind Andrew Whitworth… for the season. [Whitworth and Anthony Collins is actually the only offensive lineman that scored a higher grade than Smith]
Not only that.
As the story goes, Smith was drafted sixth overall during the 2009 NFL Draft. And within two seasons, the word “bust” was dusting itself off from Chris Perry’s night stand, willing to attach itself to Smith’s name. Injuries were largely the result of inaction, but work ethic was believed to be the catalyst for his delayed recovery that granted him season passes to Marvin Lewis’ doghouse.
All of the sudden Smith shows up for player-only workouts during the NFL lockout, noticeably slimmer by changing the nutrition in his diet. Though the foot injury he suffered in 2010 prevented him from working out with the players, he still joined the team anyway and at one point approached Andrew Whitworth, declaring that he’s ready to step up. Granted fans would have liked to see him do it before his third season, but in the end we’ll take it.
Though he’s lowered his weight, he’s still not satisfied. According to Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com, Smith is “down to about the 320-pound range.”
Right tackle Andre Smith came up with a big game against the Cardinals after missing the previous two games and is as fit as he’s ever been. He’s down to about the 320-pound range and says he’s not worn down even though Sunday is his 14th game of the season. He played just 13 combined in his first two seasons.
Well done, young man. Well done.
Two years ago never would I have imagined that Smith would come this far. Not only is his weight become less of an issue, compounded by the proactive action of staying healthy, but Smith is quietly becoming a true professional on this team.
And this should conclude our rounds talking about the starting offensive tackles for the day.