This is a series of five items heading into Friday that could be of high-interest.
As a proudly admitted fan of the offensive line, curiosity binds me to this due to my emotional investment into the position. The two-year story of Smith's professional career is deeply aggravating and twice as frustrating. Though various accounts tend to suggest that his maturity promoted the head-on collision that's largely stalled his development, injuries have greatly contributed to his overall growth depreciation. Yet also chronicled is the fact he's finally getting it. Marvin Lewis was impressed enough to talk about it this week, as was offensive line captain Andrew Whitworth earlier this summer.
Smith will take the field Friday evening as the team's starting right tackle, most likely taking on Lions defensive end Cliff Avril and his 8.5 quarterback sacks from last season. In two seasons Smith has played during 230 passing plays and allowed three quarterback sacks, three quarterback hits and 14 quarterback pressures.
It's reasonable to expect that this game enhances the final second-chance for Smith who could be a free agent after the 2012 season if the team doesn't pick up Smith's two-year option by August 19. He was drafted to be one of the team's core offensive lineman and his comment to Whitworth that "it's time for me to step up" makes us conclude that he realizes that now. We'll see how that starts to translate on the field during games.