When Andre Smith showed up at Paul Brown Stadium after his long holdout in 2009, he looked and weighed as much as he appeared to when he decided it would be a good idea to run the 40-yard dash with his shirt off. If you were watching Hard Knocks, you saw Benglas owner Mike Brown even say something about how he needed to lose weight.
Then, to really nobody's surprise at all, Smith broke his foot and missed the rest of the preseason. Then, before the 2010 season, Smith had another operation on his foot that kept him on the sideline for the majority of that preseason too.
Many of us would have worried that the lockout could make things worse for Smith because he wouldn't be able to be on the field with his teammates or in the team's weight room. Then came the report that Smith wasn't working out with Andrew Whitworth and the rest of the offensive linemen. Even though Smith told Whitworth that he knows that it's time for him to step up, I didn't expect him to be any more of a factor in 2011 than he was in 2009 or 2010.
Then came the report that, despite the lockout, Smith has dropped a lot of weight, now weighing in at 338, thanks partially to a diet of baked and grilled fish developed by his mother.
Now the Bengals are only three days away from their first practice at Georgetown (Saturday from 3-5), and Smith could possibly practice there with them for the first time in his career.
According to the Mothership's Geoff Hobson, Smith is 95 percent sure that a CT scat will clear his surgically repaired foot and he'll be able to practice at training camp, which is something he's never done.
Smith has been working out with Ray "Rock" Oliver, who was Chip Morton's, the Bengals current strength and conditioning coach, assistant that helped Smith shed some weight during his rookie year. Oliver has been impressed with Smith's work ethic during the offseason.
"You've got to hand it to Andre," said Ray "Rock" Oliver. "If you're going to criticize a guy for not doing it, you have to praise him when he does do it, too. I'm proud of the guy. He's worked hard at it."
"We pretty much mirrored what he had been doing with Chip," Oliver said. "A lot of work with the hands. Technique drills. He sat in on our offensive line meetings and I know that was great for our guys. Andre knows the game and studies it."
According to Smith, even Marvin Lewis seemed to be impressed, saying, "He smiled. He was happy for me. Hopefully those things are behind me and I don't have to worry about them anymore."
The Bengals could really use Smith this season. The offense is going in a whole new direction and Smith's run blocking ability could help open the right side of the line, opening the passing game for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
This could finally be the year that Smith proves to every single Bengals fan and every single person who has labeled him a bust that he was worth the sixth overall pick.