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spkb25 06-12-2005 07:39 PM

starting to like smith even more
Saints welcome Smith's 'charisma'
Safety says he's trying to lead by example
Sunday, June 12, 2005
By Mike Triplett
Staff writer

New Saints safety Dwight Smith has been a great fit, both in performance and in personality.

The fifth-year veteran brings a lot of noise and energy to the practice field, something coaches and teammates say they appreciate, as well as the versatility that made the team covet him in free agency.

Smith, who turns 27 in August, spent his first four seasons in Tampa Bay before signing a five-year, $25 million deal with the Saints in March.

"He just carries a charisma," defensive coordinator Rick Venturi said. "He's got a football character to him. He's confident. He walks around with no fear.

"There's just something about him that really grows on you. I think players see it right away."

Smith also stands out on the practice field by the way he dresses. Smith wears several layers of socks, pulled high up to the knee -- something that has drawn fines from the NFL in the past.

"If I wasn't playing football, I'd be a fashion guru," Smith joked.

Saints coach Jim Haslett said when he asked around about Smith, he was told that he "loves being on the field and loves to play the game."

Smith, 5 feet 10, 201 pounds, said that's a perfect description. He does a lot of talking on the field, and he said he feels it is his role to become a leader on this defense.

Off the field, Smith said he has become quick friends with his new teammates in the secondary, hanging out, joking together and eating together.

"I don't really talk about what a guy should be doing, because I don't really know the defense that well yet. But best believe, once I do, I'll be a vocal leader out there," Smith said. "Being the new guy, it's tough to step in and try to vocally lead. So I'm trying to lead by example, let them see the way I practice."

Venturi said Smith has been learning almost every position in the secondary, something the Saints rarely have done with a defensive back. Smith began his NFL career as a cornerback and can play both positions. He is equally adept at blitzing the quarterback or playing deep center field.

Smith has 12 interceptions over the past three regular seasons. He also became the first player in NFL history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in Tampa Bay's victory over Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.

"He comes in here as a leader," veteran safety Jay Bellamy said of Smith. "He's learning a lot of positions right now, so his head is swimming a little bit. But he's getting everything down, and he should be good for us."

IMPRESSIVE ROOKIE: Another safety who turned heads during the Saints' coaching sessions and weekend minicamp is second-round draft pick Josh Bullocks. Bullocks, a 6-1, 207-pounder from Nebraska, has displayed a quick burst and tremendous closing speed.

Bullocks made his latest nifty interception Saturday. He has been working with the first-team defense in several situational groups, especially in third-down packages.

"I'm a ballhawk, man. I like to go get the football," said Bullocks, who had 13 interceptions in three years at Nebraska, including a Big 12-record 10 as a sophomore. "That's my main goal, no matter where it's at, I just go and get it."

INJURY UPDATE: As a precaution, linebacker James Allen sat out his second straight practice Saturday with minor knee tendinitis. Also not participating because of injuries were receivers Devery Henderson (hamstring) and Brian Poli-Dixon (hamstring), linebackers Derrick Rodgers (back) and Roger Knight (knee), cornerback Mike McKenzie (hamstring) and offensive tackle Spencer Folau (knee).

ETC.: Cornerback Fakhir Brown did not participate in team drills during his second day back from a contract holdout. Guard Montrae Holland was excused from the weekend minicamp because of a death in his family. . . . The team will break until training camp opens July 29. Rookies will continue working out at the training facility for two weeks before attending the NFL's rookie symposium in Palm Beach, Fla., on June 26-30. . . . Several Saints players and personnel will travel on the team's annual Western Regional Caravan from June 14-16, making stops in Thibodaux, Houma, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles. For information, contact the Saints' regional marketing department at (504) 729-5519.

Euphoria 06-12-2005 07:57 PM

RE: starting to like smith even more
Looking good.

qball316 06-12-2005 10:01 PM

RE: starting to like smith even more
I like what I read exect I could have done without the endorsement from Venturi.

jnormand 06-13-2005 12:00 AM

RE: starting to like smith even more
Why is Brown still sitting?

Euphoria 06-13-2005 10:41 AM

RE: starting to like smith even more
Right now he isn't the starter due to sitting out and to give the others a fair shot at CB. I think he will be the starter but its the cost of sitting out during the voluntary workouts.

mayoj 06-13-2005 10:56 AM

RE: starting to like smith even more
I love D. Smith. This is the type of players we need on our team. Talent and leadership. If only we could have added a LB with the same attributes, I would be fully aroused at the thought of our D. As we stand I only have a halfer, but after the young LB's step up, and we successfully shut down Carolina on 9/11, I will be fully aroused in a sea of disgruntled Panther's fans.

If this is a moderatable comment, I appologize. Let the moderating begin.

Euphoria 06-13-2005 11:20 AM

RE: starting to like smith even more
seems like things are starting to fall into place though. I only hope the changes at OC and DC help really does help and with the talent developing...

papz 06-13-2005 01:28 PM

RE: starting to like smith even more
Come on Euph this isn't you. This is suppose to be where you put in one of those one-liners... "This is where the hype begins." :wink:

Good to hear so many good things coming from camp... HOPEFULLY it's not all words and we'll see some great play on the field.

Euphoria 06-13-2005 03:22 PM

RE: starting to like smith even more
D. Smith is a proven vet... I am not building hype around a player who hasn't played a down in the NFL yet.

papz 06-13-2005 03:43 PM

RE: starting to like smith even more
Lol I was only teasing you.

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