FOXBORO MA - SEPTEMBER 12: The officiasl break up a scuffle between Andre Smith #71 of the Cincinnati Bengals and Gerard Warren #92 of the New England Patriots during the NFL season opener on September 12 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Bengals 38-24. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Where does one begin summarizing Smith's time in Cincinnati? Weighing at 332 pounds and severely out of shape, contributed to his 5.28 40 and surprisingly low 19 repetitions on the bench press at the NFL Combine (comparatively speaking, rookie tight end Orson Charles bench pressed 225 pounds 35 times this year, breaking the Combine record for tight ends). His Pro Day is legendary -- and not for the reason he would like. Contractual holdout delayed his NFL debut, compounded by a broken foot suffered during non-contact drills which prevented Smith from playing until November 29, 2009 against the Cleveland Browns.
Smith had a procedure done after his rookie season that was expected to "strengthen" the bone he broke in his foot. Not only did the Bengals place Smith on Injured Reserve on November 13, 2010 with, yep, a broken foot, the extended recovery from the procedure literally put him in Marvin Lewis' dog house. When he showed up for training camp in 2010, Smith reportedly weighed 370 pounds.
Then a light flickered in Smith's noggin', oddly enough during a time that players were forced to work out on their own due to the NFL lockout. Smith, who arrived at the players-only minicamp in mid-June, approached Andrew Whitworth and said, "Whit, it's my time. Time for me to step up."
And he did.
According to Pro Football Focus grading system, Smith was easily the second-best pass blocker on the team, behind Andrew Whitworth. He started 14 games and finally received the eviction notice from Lewis' dog house.
"A huge leap," Lewis said. "He made a transition mentally to being a pro. He became the guy we hoped we drafted and maybe he wasn't going to show those signs in year one, but we hoped he wasn't hurt and could show them in year two. OK, it took till year three, but he did it and that's what's key."
Yet much like everyone else on the offensive line, run blocking was a struggle last year and Smith recognizes that.
"I want to be a dominant run blocker. I want to get back to what I was in college," he said. "Disciplined at all times."
Once again going through an offseason training regiment that will make him a better player, Smith is reportedly at 330 pounds with a goal of 325. However weight isn't the only focus on Smith's mind.
"Last year I wasn't in as good as shape as I could have been, but it was the smallest I'd been in the NFL so I was able to maintain it playing the game," Smith said. "This year I want to be in tip-top shape. Put together strength and wind so I can breathe."
Ambitious. Goal-oriented. Prideful. Where is the Andre Smith we drafted in 2009?