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saint5221 08-22-2003 09:29 AM

Smith overtaking Ruff
Smith looked damn good and sure out played Ruff in the jets game, it will be interesting to watch against the niners to see if Ruff answers the challenge.
Advocate sportswriter

Darrin Smith METAIRIE -- New Orleans Saints middle linebacker Darrin Smith believes in the old saying that practice makes perfect. Then again, he also believes that preparation makes perfect.

That's one of the reasons why the Saints defense played much better in a 22-17 victory over the New York Jets last Saturday after dropping a 27-17 decision to the Philadelphia Eagles five nights earlier.

Smith sat out the Eagles game with a groin injury, but he was back on the field and doing what he does best -- calling out signals and getting his teammates in the right pre-snap position -- against the Jets.

"The biggest thing I bring is experience and understanding of the game," Smith said. "I try to be a student of the game, and that makes a real big difference in the way you play the game."

Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi saw it against the Jets.

"What Darrin gives us is a lot of stability and veteran leadership," said Venturi. "He's the director of the defense. He goes out there and gives us direction without panic."

Panic set in for the Saints early against the Eagles. When they started shifting and sending players in motion during the first drive, some of the Saints' newcomers on defense were lost -- simply because they hadn't played a lot, Venturi said.

"That's not to say (backups) Orlando Ruff and Cie Grant aren't playing well, because they are," Venturi said. "But this is their first year here, and it's going to take more time to get into the scheme and understand it.

"Darrin came in and certainly gave us stability against the Jets," he said. "He did a real good job. The guy has always played a little bit better than people think he can play."

Which is why Smith, who is entering his 11th NFL season, has started 130 of 138 games since coming into the league as a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 1993. He's also started all 13 playoff games he's played in -- including Super Bowl XXX with the Cowboys

Most of those starts came at weakside 'backer, but Smith moves back to the middle this season after playing a key role there for the Saints in their run to the NFC Western Division title in 2000.

And the Saints' coaching staff is hoping Smith will be able to help rekindle the magic of that season after letting unrestricted free agent Charlie Clemons go this offseason. Clemons eventually signed with the Houston Texans.

It didn't take long for Venturi and coach Jim Haslett to pencil Smith in at the vacant spot even though they signed Ruff from the San Diego Chargers and drafted Grant, who has tremendous speed, in the third round.

At first, it was thought that Ruff would play in obvious running situations and Smith would come in on passing downs. But after four weeks of training camp, Smith, one of the few players in the NFL with a master's degree, has solidified his starting spot.

When he came to the Saints after being released by the Seattle Seahawks in 2000, Smith didn't have a starting spot.

But he moved right in when Clemons was felled in preseason by a torn Achilles tendon.

While it would not have been a smooth transition for most players, Smith settled right in.

"Preparation always makes a difference in the way you play," Smith said. "A lot of players have talent and ability, but you have to do the things that give yourself that edge. You have to know what the other team is trying to do to you."

That year, the Saints finished eighth out of 31 teams in total defense and went to the playoffs and won a postseason game for the first time in club history.

"We felt good about what we did that season, we were a top-10 defense and everybody came through and contributed," he said. "I did what the coaches asked of me and it was something special to be a part of."

Now, the Saints are asking Smith, who watches at least five hours of game tapes at home each week and three times that much at the team's training facility, to do it again after back-to-back disappointing seasons for the defense.

"There are a lot of little things that go with playing this defense," he said, "and most of it comes with experience.

"But my job is to get my teammates in a better position to help our defense. If we do that, the defense will work the way it's supposed to work."

rusta 08-22-2003 10:08 PM

Smith overtaking Ruff
everything i have read and this includes the the official website have smith listed as the starting MLB

WhoDat 08-23-2003 09:17 AM

Smith overtaking Ruff
This just makes me even more upset about the Ruff deal. I didn\'t like that move when they made it and I really don\'t like it now. That\'s too much money for a backup, especially when Cie Grant is around - and when you consider that another half million dollars could have gotten us Chris Claiborne this move makes me down right mad.

BillyCarpenter1 08-23-2003 10:09 AM

Smith overtaking Ruff

This just makes me even more upset about the Ruff deal. I didn\'t like that move when they made it and I really don\'t like it now. That\'s too much money for a backup, especially when Cie Grant is around - and when you consider that another half million dollars could have gotten us Chris Claiborne this move makes me down right mad.
Yep, I agree. Looks like a very stupid move. The Saints even had a chance to get Randall Godfrey and made no attempt to do so.

I also wouldn\'t write Orlando Ruff off just yet. Obviously they think they saw something in him and he might yet prove them right.

What if the Saints think they have a special player in Cie Grant and the master plan is to have him starting soon? If this is the case, then maybe this explains the lack of effort on their part to pursue a proven linebacker.

I think they sould have gone after a proven linebacker but I will wait and see before I pass judgement on how bad the position is going to be.

[Edited on 23/8/2003 by BillyCarpenter1]

BlackandBlue 08-23-2003 10:30 AM

Smith overtaking Ruff
Has anyone seen Grant perform since his last injury? Sorry, been out of the mix here lately- been working 70 hours a week and haven\'t had much time to catch up on all the happenings.

BillyCarpenter1 08-23-2003 10:39 AM

Smith overtaking Ruff
Cie didn\'t play in the first game because he was injured. He played in the second half against the Jet\'s and never really heard much out of him.

The coaches have talked highly of Cie and said he will be on the field this year.

nocloning 08-23-2003 10:42 AM

Smith overtaking Ruff

[Edited on 23/8/2003 by nocloning]

tweeky 08-23-2003 01:30 PM

Smith overtaking Ruff
1st- The topic. Of course Smith is gonna look better, he\'s been in the system much longer than Ruff. Ruff will improve as the PRESEASON PRACTICE GAMES continue.
Don\'t get me wrong, I love Smith, he\'s a Knight type warrior that refuses to die. He\'s a great guy to have on this team. They brought in Ruff for his upside, which he needs to start showing and I assume he will once he becomes more acclimated to the defensive calls and adjustments. He, along with a few other defensive players, need more time to gel. Two practice games just isn\'t enough considering the amount of changes we made.

How many posts and articles did we read about needing time for this team to gel? I read 3 zillion myself. It may be week 3 or 4 before this defense is all on the right page.
It\'ll still be better than that hammered-crap we had last year.

2nd-Cie Grant. The Saints had him 3rd LB overall on their board. I assume behind Bailey and ????. He may be starting ahead of Smith and Ruff by week 10, the game after our bye week.

3rd-Next years draft (and free-agency) is absolutely loaded with great LB and CB\'s.
If I were Hodge and Allen I\'d be just as worried as Ruff.

I also see us going stud CB and LB in draft, along with a proven free-agent CB and LB.

We have only begun to stud-out. Our window is just starting to open.

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