Andre Smith, Cincinnati's sixth-overall selection during the 2009 NFL Draft, is working traveling the line with one of the more interesting turnaround stories this year. Maybe the most interesting, using an apples and oranges comparison, since Chris Henry. All of the issues with work ethic, immaturity and a disturbing trend that he's just not taking this seriously is quietly put on hold. It's not gone. Just pushed into the back of the mind for the time being.
Through two years of injuries, slow rehabilitations and the general lack of effort to get back on the field, Smith showed up during player-only workouts two months ago with reported observations of a dramatic weight loss. Smith admitted that improved nutrition helped him lower his weight to 338 pounds. Tuesday night he admitted that he dropped another five pounds, down to 333.
Yet it's not really the weight that's impressive. It's walking up to Andrew Whitworth and saying:
"Whit, it's my time. Time for me to step up."
It was that moment that we took notice with a cocked eyebrow. Is this guy serious? Maybe. Talk is cheap. But losing the weight with a rigorous nutritional program, declaring to one of the team's captains that it's time, makes us want to believe in him. On Tuesday Smith worked out during individual drills, afterwards talking as if he's got a chip on his shoulder.
"I am trying to prove those naysayers wrong," Smith said. "I took everything more seriously this offseason to live up to the hype.
Like we said. It's hard to put aside what we know about Andre Smith. Almost like Jerome Simpson, whose three-game stretch in 2010 doesn't quite dissolve what we've experienced with him since 2008.
For his part, he most likely knows this. And he's hearing it. But if he does turn it around, starts 16 games and does so effectively, the first two years will eventually fade from memory. But for now, it's a damn good start.