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Old 06-10-2010, 03:30 PM   #1
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Default Alphonso Smith - Growing "Leaps & Bounds" - db.com

http://www.denverbroncos.com/page.ph...&storyID=10169

By Gabe Hiatt
DenverBroncos.com

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Perhaps the most important quality in a cornerback is selective amnesia, the ability to immediately forgive yourself for your mistakes on the previous play, game, or even season. It's the ability to dissolve the pain and retain the lessons learned.

Alphonso Smith's rookie experience was an exercise in selective amnesia.

Smith was a Demon Deacon dynamo at Wake Forest, dissecting offenses from the point-of-view of a former quarterback. Smith acted as the Deac's defensive Swiss Army Knife -- he had all the tools. When he wasn't intercepting quarterbacks he was sacking them. When he wasn't blocking kicks he was returning them.

Amassing 21 picks as an undergrad, Smith nabbed the 10th most interceptions in the history of college football and the most in the history of the ACC.

He wanted to step into the NFL as the same player who crafted a legendary collegiate resume. Instead he struggled to adapt. The reality of pro football put Smith through the wringer.

"I have no room for excuses," Smith said. "I just wasn't good enough. Flat out, just the bottom line, I wasn't good enough. I wasn't good enough mentally (or) physically."

Most rookies aren't, but Smith holds himself to higher standards.

"Being hurt and not playing as well, not being a vital guy in the special teams game, not being able to help the guys on defense, that's really frustrating as a player," Smith said. "As competitive as I am, of course I got a little frustrated and kind of lost confidence."

At times last season the Broncos played Ty Law and Tony Carter ahead of Smith at the nickel spot. Now Smith is doing everything he can to turn his rookie disappointments into lessons learned.

"I had 16 games to look at, actually 20 games to look at if you're including preseason," Smith said. "I had all of those games to look at to try and figure out what the NFL is about and what an NFL offense is like."

Observation is the key to Smith's development. He's spending extra time in meetings with his position coaches and peppering his older teammates with questions.

One asset that speaks to Smith is the wealth of experience in the starting secondary. Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill, and Andre' Goodman boast 42 years of NFL experience between them.

"We talked a lot last year, but he can actually learn more by watching us do it the right way," Goodman said. "The biggest thing he has to understand is the improvement he has to make from year one to year two. They kind of give you your rookie year to learn. The game is a lot faster and it's a different game. It's definitely not the same as the college game. He has to understand there is no leeway in year two. You're not a rookie anymore."

If anyone can sympathize with Smith, it's Goodman. Fresh off a marquee season in which he led the Broncos with five interceptions, the veteran corner recalled his own rookie struggles.

"Honestly, I think my experience was very similar because in my mind I felt like I was going fast and all the veterans were always like, 'You can go faster.' It's kind of like, 'Well how much faster can I go?'" Goodman said. "Everything about you should be fast. Your teammates say you always have one more step than you think you have. We see it, and it's a matter of helping him understand it."

Goodman credits his old Detroit Lions teammates Todd Lyght and Eric Davis for forcing him into full speed not just on Sundays, but in every drill and practice.

According to Goodman the whole secondary has a responsibility to bring Smith along at the same pace. Goodman points to Bailey as a prime example.

"Well I think if you're going to try and emulate anyone in the game, that's the perfect guy," Goodman said. "I think what (Smith) needs to pick up from him -- and what I've picked up from him -- is how hungry he still is. For a guy that's made the Pro Bowl as many times as he has, you walk out to the practice field and see him practicing like he's a young guy."

Bailey for one sees the upside in Smith.

"He's grown a lot," Bailey said. "I think he understands what we expect from him."

While Smith will admit he still has his "rookie moments," in OTAs he's finding that professional speed, snaring interceptions and batting down passes from hashmark to hashmark.

He's been running as the first-team nickel corner in practice, but the offseason is always a threat. Veteran defensive back Nate Jones signed to compete with Smith, and rookies Perrish Cox and Syd'Quan Thompson are also fighting for playing time.

The whispers of Smith's doubters are still fresh in his ears, questioning his value and further motivating him to excel.

"Everyone is now looking at you. Everyone is questioning your position and why you were picked so high," Smith said. "For me personally, I do have a chip on my shoulder and I'm just trying to work and get better. Hopefully I can be a better football player for this team."
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:43 PM   #2
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We'll see... pulling for him.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:44 PM   #3
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I'll believe it when I see it, hopefully he works out.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:48 PM   #4
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Ah, off season fluff pieces.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:52 PM   #5
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Translation: he is going to have quite a fight on his hands just to make the roster.
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Old 06-10-2010, 03:59 PM   #6
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:00 PM   #7
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My prediction: Will be the best nickelback to ever have worn a Broncos Uniform.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:00 PM   #8
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Alphonso Smith - Growing

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Old 06-10-2010, 04:12 PM   #9
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Ah, off season fluff pieces.
exactly. but, you know, something to read.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:26 PM   #10
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I hope so. I liked him coming out of the draft and if all we gave up for him was the second round pick that we drafted him at I'd be ok. It's not Smith's fault we traded a first for him and it's a bit unfair to judge him like one. He's a smallish corner that plays very physically and has good instincts. Hopefull this season with a better defensive line he can really grow.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:40 PM   #11
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Translation: he is going to have quite a fight on his hands just to make the roster.
Please. He'll be on the roster. Even if he continued to struggle, they aren't going to give up on him after one season when they invested a 1st in him. It is not unusual at all for rookies to struggle, as has been pointed out time and again, so I can't understand why folks are already shuffling him into the bust category. He was a terrific college player and a hard worker, so I'm certainly not counting him out at this point.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:47 PM   #12
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Please. He'll be on the roster. Even if he continued to struggle, they aren't going to give up on him after one season when they invested a 1st in him. It is not unusual at all for rookies to struggle, as has been pointed out time and again, so I can't understand why folks are already shuffling him into the bust category. He was a terrific college player and a hard worker, so I'm certainly not counting him out at this point.
Tony Carter was the better player in limited playing time last year. Then we sign Jones and draft Cox / Thompson. He could easily be #5 on the depth chart, without even knowing how Cox and Thompson pan out. I don't think it's that much of a stretch to think Smith is on the bubble.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:49 PM   #13
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I would love to see him take advantage of the opportunity, stand up to the challenge, excel at his position, and become a key piece of the Denver Defense for years to come.
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Old 06-10-2010, 04:54 PM   #14
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I didn't see anything that indicated that he's growing as aplayer, only that he recognizes that he sucked. Hopefully that translates into change for the better.
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Old 06-10-2010, 05:12 PM   #15
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Tony Carter was the better player in limited playing time last year. Then we sign Jones and draft Cox / Thompson. He could easily be #5 on the depth chart, without even knowing how Cox and Thompson pan out. I don't think it's that much of a stretch to think Smith is on the bubble.
thats just plain ***in foolish to think that there is even a possibility smith doesnt make this team...it is not very often the year after you trade a first round pick for a player you cut him....especially one with as much potential as smith
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Old 06-10-2010, 05:19 PM   #16
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thats just plain ***in foolish to think that there is even a possibility smith doesnt make this team...it is not very often the year after you trade a first round pick for a player you cut him....especially one with as much potential as smith
Foolish is expectng some sort of contribution from Smith based soley upon what was given up to draft him.
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Old 06-10-2010, 05:48 PM   #17
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Foolish is expectng some sort of contribution from Smith based soley upon what was given up to draft him.
Foolish is thinking you would know rather Smith will be a player or not.
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Old 06-10-2010, 06:04 PM   #18
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In two years he and Perrish are probably our two starting CB's if he starts to come on.
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Old 06-10-2010, 06:38 PM   #19
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My prediction: Will be the best nickelback to ever have worn a Broncos Uniform.
I think part of the problem is he shouldn't be a nickelback at all. He's better suited to be playing on the outside, and with Champ and Goodman out there, there's no place for the Fonz.
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:05 PM   #20
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I think part of the problem is he shouldn't be a nickelback at all. He's better suited to be playing on the outside, and with Champ and Goodman out there, there's no place for the Fonz.
The fact that both Champ and Andre were healthy for nearly the entire season last year was pretty amazing. Although I'd hate to see either one injured, I don't see a full healthy season happening again for the both of them. Fonz must know it takes 2-3 seasons to really get each WR down, study personnel film, and get those feet and hips rolling the right way. I'm sure he'll make some noise this season.
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:34 PM   #21
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Instead of growing by "leaps and bounds," Why can't we get him to grow by "pounds and inches?"

Is that too much to ask?
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:41 PM   #22
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Translation: he is going to have quite a fight on his hands just to make the roster.
Usually agree with you but it's pretty damned rare to see a second round pick cut after a year. Considering we used a first round pick to get that second round pick he'll be around for another two years at least. Hell, we still have Jarvis Moss on the roster.
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:58 PM   #23
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Usually agree with you but it's pretty damned rare to see a second round pick cut after a year. Considering we used a first round pick to get that second round pick he'll be around for another two years at least. Hell, we still have Jarvis Moss on the roster.
I'm going to have to award you the point and note this - he would have the point, if we were the raiders.
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Old 06-10-2010, 08:50 PM   #24
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Foolish is thinking you would know rather Smith will be a player or not.
Foolish is also putting words in another's mouth that were never said.
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Old 06-10-2010, 08:54 PM   #25
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Foolish is also putting words in another's mouth that were never said.
How about "If the shoe fits..."

Never said I was directing that comment toward you
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