Dealing with demotion

Not long ago, Wade Smith was the only returning starter on the Dolphins offensive line. But that's no longer the case, and now Smith has to deal with having lost his starting job to newcomer Damion McIntosh.

"It's tough, it's disappointing, but it's something where I'm going the situation given to me and make something positive out of it," said Smith, one of the Dolphins' two third-round picks in 2003. "Personally, I haven't been performing to the level I should be performing. It's a lot of stuff. It's nothing I can put my finger on."

Smith really struggled Sunday night in the loss at Cincinnati, but he wasn't the one who played poorly up front. But Smith lost his job because the Dolphins had a veteran alternative behind him in McIntosh.

"Wade Smith is a young, talented player and I would not read anything more into it, except that Damion has come on the last cople of weeks and has done a good job," said Coach Dave Wannstedt. "Damion has started in this league for three years. This is not a one-man issue, as I said after my press conference; when you struggle as a unit as we have a little bit on offense, everybody has their hand in it. I think Damion deserves the opportunity and we'll see what he does."

That's all nice and dandy, but it's clear the Dolphins have a serious problem with Smith. He actually had his moments as a rookie last season and gained weight in the offseason, yet somehow has badly regressed.

Losing his starting job isn't likely to do much for his confidence, and if it turns out that Smith is done as a starter, that means the Dolphins would have lost a second-round pick (sent to New England for the third-round pick used on Smith) for a guy who started all of one season.

Here's the other issue: If the Dolphins had better depth up front, instead of rookies Rex Hadnot and Vernon Carey, and journeyman Greg Jerman, chances are there would be more changes on the offensive line.

For now, Smith will just be working on trying to get his game back in gear.

We'll have to see," he said. "I'm going to work hard like I'd be out there playing. I'm going to keep the same attitude."

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