This time of year, people are always on the lookout for that "sleeper" pick to make an impact with the New Orleans Saints. Usually it's some undrafted free agent that no one had ever heard of before. This year, it could be a guy who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. We won't be able to tell if Jason Smith has a realistic shot at the Saints' starting left tackle job until we see him going full speed in full pads in the preseason. But Smith did get another audition with the first-string offense during OTAs last week, and Coach Sean Payton reiterated that the competition is "absolutely" still wide open between front-runner Charles Brown, Smith and rookie Terron Armstead. "I think oftentimes, you take a peek at a player that was selected as high as he was and graded out as high as he was," Payton said of the decision to sign Smith this offseason. "He is a tremendous worker and has athletic ability. So it's another opportunity, and it's oftentimes you are able to get a player maybe his second time around or third time around that can come in and find a niche." It's funny to think of Smith as a "sleeper." But for the first time since he was drafted out of Baylor in 2009, Smith has been operating below the radar this summer in Saints camp. For his first three and a half years with the St. Louis Rams, Smith played under the glare of high expectations and sometimes harsh criticism -- a draft "bust" because of inconsistent performance and a series of concussions. Then he was traded to the New York Jets last summer, where the spotlight always shines bright, even though he was playing a backup role This year, however, Smith is experiencing relative anonymity with the Saints. And that's perfectly OK with him. Smith reluctantly spent about 15 minutes chatting with the media during minicamp. It was a friendly, almost playful conversation. But it was clear that Smith wasn't interested in analyzing his chances of winning a starting job or dissecting his career's highs and lows up to this point.
Saints tackle Jason Smith hoping to resurrect career, shed 'bust' label
New Orleans Times-Picayune | Jun 19