Broncos rookie CB adjusting to NFL
Ryan Summerlin June 9, 2009
DENVER, Colorado – Rookie cornerback Alphonso Smith’s college statistics are impressive: Seven interceptions for Wake Forest his senior year, tied for the most in Division I, plus 38 tackles. His junior year saw eight interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns, one shy of the Division I record.
Smith isn’t touting those stats at the Denver Broncos’ minicamp. The second-round pick is too busy trying to adapt, learning the playbook and defensive schemes.
“I’m still trying to adjust and compete on this level,” Smith said after Tuesday’s voluntary practice. “Hopefully I’ll get there by the time training camp starts.”
With Pro Bowlers like Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey in the secondary, Smith doesn’t have to look far for role models.
“Once you see guys like Champ and Andre (Goodman) and Brian do things, how they carry themselves on the field, how they carry themselves in the film room and how they carry themselves around the facility, as a young guy you just need to watch and absorb what they’re doing,” he said. “Keep watching them, because there’s something you can learn every day.”
Bailey, for instance, has shown him the rewards of patience.
“As a corner, you have guys running at your toes, and as a rookie I kind of panicked a little bit because I never had someone running up on me so fast,” Smith said.
“Just see Champ, how he never panics. He’s just so calm and so composed every time. I learned that from him. I try to take that from his game, try to add it to mine and just try to be a smaller Champ.”
Smith wants to be fully versed in the Broncos’ defensive playbook before training camp starts next month.
“My goal coming in was to try to catch up to speed with the veterans,” he said of the optional organized team activities, or offseason practices, teams are allowed in May and June. “I’m using OTAs to catch up and be able to compete with the veteran guys once training camp comes around.”