CLEMSON – In our third check-in with former Woodland quarterback and Clemson safety Robert Smith, the Colts safety talks about his relationship with new teammates.
While in awe of some big names he grew up watching and now wears his same jersey today, Smith has sought out some role models on defense who once upon a time – a decade ago, or a year ago – were in his same situation as an undrafted free agent trying to find his way.
“Right now, it’s same ol’, same ol’. Every day is just a grind. Reps are limited; when you go out there, you’ve got to make a name for yourself. Communication is the biggest key at this level. It’s more mental than it is physical. The physical part, you’ve been doing your whole life, but when you’re doing OTAs without pads on, it challenges you mentally to make the right calls and use your technique.
“Every single player on the roster is here. I think that’s what’s special about this place right here. It’s not even mandatory. We all believe in chasing after that championship in Santa Clara in February.
“Don’t wake me up, because I still feel like I’m dreaming. Just to see Frank Gore, Andrew Luck and those guys come up and talk to you, it’s just crazy. Since I was little, I was looking up to these guys. I remember when Andrew Luck got drafted. Those guys bring it every day. I’ve never seen them take one off. When Frank Gore’s not in, he’s mentally in practice. Andrew Luck takes every throw seriously, and that’s what makes him a great player – it means something to him. He appreciates playing in the NFL.
“Practically everybody on defense has taken me under their wing. The coaches have been real good with everyone, especially the rookies. Guys like Mike Adams, you can go to him at any point in time and talk about situations. He’s a veteran, going on 11 years in the league. So he’s seen the ins and outs. He was an undrafted free agent, so I’m picking his brain on what he did and how he could contribute to make a roster spot.
“Dewey McDonald was in the same situation last year. He was a special teams king – everywhere you look on special teams, he’s doing things. Same thing with Colt Anderson – those guys were all over special teams, and when you’re in special teams meetings, that’s all you hear. They’re maximizing their opportunity; anything they can do to make the roster, they did it. That’s how it goes. Sometimes you’ve got to know your role on the team. Maybe your role is being a great special teams player.
“Dwayne Allen takes up for me all the time. We had a great relationship back in Clemson; when I first got there, we had the same major, and he was one of those guys I took toward. Nothing has changed with Dwayne at all. I remember back in Clemson, Dwayne went 110 percent every single play. At this level, he does the exact same thing. He does everything possible to be a great player.”