"He's talented. He showed flashes of encouragement. If we get him up to speed he'll be quite an asset," Alexander said of the sixth pick in the draft. "I need a few weeks where he can work with me and practice with me."
Smith has seen limited time since being drafted sixth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. A lengthy holdout that lasted through training camp, compounded with a broken foot during his second practice after signing a contract, sidelined him for the first half of his rookie season. After the season was over, Smith had a procedure done in February that prevented him from taking the field during offseason workouts, severely limiting his offseason work.
Smith didn't miss the start of the regular season, playing in seven of the team's first eight games in 2010, even starting three straight games. However, another broken foot during practice ended his season.
If Smith's recovery takes as long as it did last year, Paul Alexander won't have the time needed to get him ready for the season. And that's with the limited hope that the league won't lockout the players for any extended period of time.