Wednesday, the Steelers announced they signed Smith, the team's first of three sixth-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, to their practice squad. The move is an intriguing one, if only because it feels like we never really got to see what Smith had to offer. A defensive end from Northern Illinois University who would convert to outside linebacker at the pro level, Smith boasted some intriguing tape.
But then ... he never showed up.
OK, Smith was physically around and in the building, but he battled injuries throughout training camp and the preseason, severely limiting his impact and his ability to gain necessary reps to not just improve, but to show the coaching staff he deserved a spot on the roster when he did get to play.
Unsurprisingly, Smith didn't make the final 53-man cut, nor was he immediately signed to the practice squad. But now he'll get his second chance.
In an interesting wrinkle to Smith's game, he didparticipate fully early in OTAs, and there he took reps at fullback.
“Coming into this process, I had teams saying, ‘Hey, we might want to try you out at fullback,’ stuff like that,” Smith was telling me beside his locker at the Rooney Complex during Steelers OTAs. “The more versatile I can be, the better off I’ll be, so I think that if I keep going with that route and also playing outside linebacker, special teams, whatever else they need, I’ll be all right.”
Roosevelt Nix has missed significant time with a knee injury this season, and while he returned to the Steelers roster in recent weeks, he re-aggravated that injury in the team's most recent win over the Colts. It's possible the Steelers want another look at Smith in that role should Nix have to miss more time this season.
For now, though, he'll need to stay healthy, show up and develop — something he didn't get to do the first time around.
Below, watch my full interview with Smith from OTAs: