Antonio Smith Willing To Do Whatever It Takes

In his conference call with the media, Antonio Smith was candid about his aspirations and history with the Broncos coaching staff. MHH Analyst Brad James reports.

Monday, new Denver Broncos defensive lineman Antonio Smith spoke to Denver media on a conference call and had valuable things to say appertaining to what he plans to accomplish in 2015.

Smith, an 11-year veteran formerly of the Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders, who is best known for his 44.5 career sacks, started things off by telling of his relationship with defensive line coach Bill Kollar, with whom he spent time with in Houston from 2009-2013.

When speaking of Kollar, Smith said, “Me and (defensive line coach) Bill Kollar have a good relationship”, confirming that Kollar had, “an old phone number” of Smith’s. At this same time, current Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak was the head man in Houston, and he said “me and both of them (Kollar and ‘Coach Kube’) are pretty close from our Houston days.”

Interestingly, Smith confirmed that his relationship with Kollar took some ironing out. “When I first came to Houston,” he said, “we had a rocky relationship.” However, he also said this became one of the “greatest relationships” he's ever had, primarily because, “he will work you, he wants you to work.”

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Perhaps Smith's next comment is most telling about Kollar's talents as he said, “To me, he coaches like a player, like a football player. He's going to get on you, but at the same time you know he's in it for your best interest.” Additionally, Smith said that Kollar has “played the game before and at a high level” and “every tip and everything he's ever given me, he has always been accurate and remained true.”

Smith, when asked about what his role in Denver will be said, “What Coach Kollar told me is that I'll be basically doing the same thing: rushing the passer. It's predicated on rushing the passer, coming in on nickel downs and getting after the quarterback.”

Smith said Kollar has, “watched a lot of film from last year and checked me out to see if I still knew how to get to the passer.” In speaking of his durability, Smith said “I expect to play a lot. Most of the rest of this league has played in nickel packages and in sub-packages and pass rush downs. A lot of the teams are more pass-predicated offenses.”

Smith also said in regard to his durability specifically. “If I am needed to do whatever needs to be done, I can play it. That comes solely from technique.” Smith also cited his great blessings to be around good coaches in his career and he has mixed their lessons with his technique, as well as his natural physical attributes and stated, “The man in front of me, it's my job to beat him, whether I'm supposed to two-gap him, pass rush him or put him in the backfield. It's my job to do it.”

In speaking of his 2012 season, the only Pro Bowl campaign in his career, he said “I would say that was my best season statistically but there were some other years in there.” As Kollar and Smith watched film, noticing “just me missing, no exaggeration, like 20 sacks.” Nevertheless, he did shore up his technique that year, as he said, “I kind of calmed down and slowly settled down so you won't let the quarterback side-step you and different things like that.”

Smith then said that the further away he gets from 2012, “the more crafty I get in pass rush,” stating, “I'm picking up new things and I'm learning things that players and coaches around the league are using to try and stop me,” also confirming, “I'm getting better.”

He stated that in Oakland in 2014, he was coming off a groin injury, but “at the same time, the pass rush opportunities weren't as plentiful as they were in past years.” With that said, he also confirmed “I am looking forward to having one of my best seasons this upcoming season” and that “my body is in excellent condition.”

Smith was then asked how he feels about playing with stellar pass-rushing teammates in outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, saying “I can't even speak to the volumes (in which) I respect their game.” He was excited with the possibilities as well, saying “I think when you've got two pass rushers like those two, that demands attention.”

Smith, who identifies as an “edge rusher” stated, “I think that the best complement for edge rushers are corners and an inside three-technique rush guys.” Smith, who spoke of being crafty previously, said it is the secret to his longevity in the league, saying, “Definitely, I've gotten better at it over my career.”

He also stated “I'm durable enough and capable enough to change and use any move. I've never had one specific move.” His litany of moves, such as the “hump” or hand movements, cause him to believe that the will be “pretty effective and disruptive.”

Smith stated he takes “a lot of humility” in his locker room leadership, saying, “it stems from my Arizona days when I first came in, the transition and how the league has changed.” He espoused his value to young Broncos players saying that, “advice, help, they need me stay after practice with them or whatever it is to teach them something, I'm an open book.”

He later said, “I'm always in it for helping my teammates. If you can serve your teammates, they'll listen to you and let you lead them because they know you understand where they're coming from.”

Smith then said in regard to the Broncos Super Bowl expectations, “I definitely see it in this team. I'm excited about giving whatever I can give towards bringing a Super Bowl to Denver.” Interestingly, Smith, an Oklahoma City native, said, “The Broncos are most of my family's favorite team,” and that “I think that every piece that you need is on this team.”

With this said, it appears Smith is ready to be a key contributor to the Broncos and is willing to do whatever is asked of him. This is obviously a trait that was missing from the 2014 Broncos, especially in the disappointing playoff loss to Indianapolis.

Nevertheless, Broncos General Manager John Elway seems to have reshuffled the deck once again and has done his best to bring another Super Bowl crown to the Rocky Mountains. Players like Smith are indispensable in getting that goal accomplished

Brad James is an analyst for You can find him on Twitter @BroncosItaly.

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