Smith Fighting Back

After becoming the first Dolphins rookie cornerback to start 16 games in a season, Sean Smith has experienced quite an adjustment this year.

He lost his starting job to a resurgent Jason Allen after a shaky preseason, and didn't even get on the field in Week 1 at Buffalo. Since then, however, Smith has gradually taken on more of a niche role in sub packages, mainly as a tight end coverage specialist and part-time special teamer.

Smith drew praise from Dolphins coach Tony Sparano for his work against the Patriots, when he tied a career high with six tackles on 38 plays, including a handful on special teams.

"With Sean, he's a cover guy," Sparano said. "He's long, but tackling, he hadn't had many of those opportunities. (Against the Patriots), he had guys on the ground and made some big plays. I thought he was productive and is getting better at it. I don't expect Sean to accept (his demotion) wholeheartedly. But I do expect him to execute."

Lately, Smith has been doing a fine job of that, but he also wants people to know he hasn't given up on winning back his starting job.

"I'm so hungry," Smith said. "Once you go from a starter to not even getting into the game, you realize how much you can't take it for granted. I've got to do whatever I can to get myself ready, to get myself back there."

Smith was referring to playing opposite Vontae Davis, his peer who is using this season to blossom into one of the AFC's top cornerbacks. But the journey back won't be easy.

"I'm a competitor by nature, so I want to be out there," Smith said. "You feel me? But I have to put what's best for the team first. I just have to go out and practice my butt off and prepare because eventually they are going to call my number."

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