Comfort Not An Option for Antone Smith

Comfort Not An Option for Antone Smith

Jay Adams

Published August 20, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Players come and players go every year in the NFL. Some move on to other teams; some move on to other careers.

The life of an NFL player on the fringe is never easy. Every single chance they get to step on the field is an opportunity to either prove themselves or give the coaching staff a reason to move on.

Running back Antone Smith has been somewhat of a fixture on the fringe, although in reality, he’s about as valuable as they come and equally as unsung. Quietly, the former Florida State star has made the Falcons roster each year since 2009 after bouncing around a bit to start his career.

He takes absolutely no comfort in that fact or in his role. While he enjoys the opportunity to be a special teams ace for the Falcons, Smith is vying for more each year and in each chance he gets.

“When you speak on the word ‘battle,’ I’m battling every day,” Smith said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s how I come to work. I come to battle. That’s just me, personally. I know it’s a job, and that job is to come to work and do what you’ve gotta do to take care of what you have to take care of.”

What Smith is trying to take care of at this stage of the season is securing the roster spot he’s held onto for four years now, but he’s not satisfied with simply doing that.

Becoming a part of the offense is something that Smith has endeavored to do in the NFL since his days as a speedster for the Seminoles, where he ended his career with 2,253 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.

The crowded running back position with new addition Steven Jackson along with fellow veterans Jaquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling means quite a battle ahead for Smith as he tries to climb the depth chart. Behind him are two running backs — Donald Russell from Georgia State and Ronnie Wingo from Arkansas — who are looking to make their case in the next two weeks.

Smith, who just returned last week after spending a few days sidelined with a camp injury, had a strong showing against Baltimore in the Falcons’ second preseason game, especially when it came to catching out of the backfield. Smith notched 22 yards on a catch-and-run and earned 40 receiving yards on the night. He also carried the ball six times for 16 yards.

Smith’s value with the Falcons in his years, however, has been on special teams. A key member of the “big four” — punt, punt return, kickoff and kick return — Smith’s contributions to the team can be easily spotted in that third phase of football.

But the key to his career, as with how he lives his life, is the desire for more and the refusal to feel comfortable with where he is.

“If this is my role on this team to be a special teamer, to be that guy, I’m down for it,” Smith said. “I love it. I’ll go out there and do everything I can possible to make this team successful. I don’t mind doing it. When it’s time for me play running back, I’ll be ready for it.”

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