Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Andre Smith created a mini-firestorm on Wednesday after the team released their pre-training camp injury list. Smith is one of several players that were placed on several injury lists ranging from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform to Active/Non-Football Injury. Most of the injury list features players that were expected to sit out early during training camp, from Chris Pressley and Bernard Scott to Zac Robinson, who is nursing an elbow.
However Smith was unexpected.
Let me re-phrase that. Not once have we heard about any injury or ailment. However, some may reference historical evidence with Smith as "expected", who has missed the first practice of training camp in four of the past five years (including this year).
Ultimately, Smith being on Active/NFI is a non-issue... right now. Players that are recovering from injury, not feeling 100 percent, or perhaps need an extra day of rest, usually are played on an injury list to open training camp. We're not sure if that's standard operating procedure, but it's far more commonplace around the league.
The greater concern is if Smith remains on the NFI list heading into the third preseason game because then he's significantly behind schedule and risking playing time in Chicago if during the regular season (when all of this actually matters).
Secondly, there's no indications that Smith has gained weight or arrived in Cincinnati with any conditioning issues. Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com reiterates that "the word is that Smith looked in good shape and he reportedly appeared to be at around his playing weight." That is similar to reports that have been consistent throughout the offseason, based on second-hand observations from others.
In fact, without knowing any details, Smith may just have developed a sore calf from a workout prior to arriving in Cincinnati this week. It's as reasonable a guess as any conjecture that immediately dives off the suicide bridge.
Not that the reactions aren't justified. Smith hasn't exactly been a model player over the years, and despite recent maturity, those nagging reminders that recall his first two seasons tends to hang around like curled milk. And he's hardly helping his own case. After signing a three-year deal worth $18 million, Smith disappeared during the team's offseason workout program. Granted, it's voluntary. But it leaves a bad impression.
On July 24, 2013, the PUP list is insignificant. Smith could easily come off of PUP by this weekend, or maybe even before it. Equally stated, he could be an absentee far longer than that. Without knowing the severity of the injury (reports are generally stating that it's "not believed to be serious"), we just don't know. But it's not time to worry about it yet.