For those creating lists that projects player regression, there's a natural instinct from the non-believers that Andre Smith will undergo some sort of decline in 2013. It's the proverbial fall after a player has signs a big contract.
Compounding that belief is when said player fails to appear during any of the team's programs during the offseason. The core with those beliefs are highlighted with conditioning concerns, or just general "he doesn't take this seriously" reaction. Perhaps it's an overreaction, who knows.
Chris Burke with Sports Illustrated argues that Smith will regress compared to his production in 2012.
The 2013 Bengals schedule is rife with teams possessing quick edge-rushers, which Graham proved can be problematic for the hulking Smith. Cincinnati plays Chicago, Pittsburgh and Green Bay over its first three weeks, and also must deal with Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami and Minnesota, among others.
All of these factors — Smith’s early absence from OTAs, his injury history, off-and-on weight issues and his questioned motivation level — will make it tough to duplicate his 2012 performance. Pro Football Focus actually graded him as the best right tackle in football over the course of the season.
One season does not a career make. Until Smith proves that he can repeat his success, after landing a multi-year contract, it’s fair to expect Cincinnati’s right tackle to regress back to his career mean.
The Bengals coaching staff and even the players (like Andy Dalton, Kyle Cook, and Andrew Whitworth, aren't necessarily concerned about Smith's absence. And while you can assured there's some level of disappointment (maybe even frustration), the team is offering a soft understanding when asked about Smith during their interviews.
"Andre won't be here for the three days," Lewis said before mandatory minicamp, adding that Smith will be fined. "He is dealing with something he has to get through. We hoped he'd be here, but he has some personal things he's dealing with."
"What I've heard is he's staying in shape, that he's doing really well," Cook said of Smith via Bengals.com. "He's matured over the years. He'll hold himself accountable to us, himself, the coaches. I think he'll be fine. A lot of other guys are getting a chance to play. The game goes on."
"Obviously we want him here," said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton at Tuesday's press conference. "I think it would help everybody out, but he’s got stuff going on – personal stuff that, sometimes that stuff happens. We obviously want him here, but we understand that there is stuff outside of football, too."
No one is worried. Despite knowing his history, I'm siding on the side of faith rather full blown condemnation for not "taking it seriously." At least for now.