Smoot: A Method to His Mouth

Fred Smoot doesn't seem to be quite as boisterous this spring as he was at the start of last year, but he says head coach Brad Childress doesn't mind the cornerback talking and keeping things loose on the field. There is a reason for his talking in practice and in games, Smoot said.

Cornerback Fred Smoot is a talker, and everybody in the Vikings organization knows it. How could they miss it?

Smoot will trash talk on the field, become more thoughtful off the field, and always look to flash his big smile. But, while some may like his style and others may be turned off by it, Smoot says there is a method to his mouth.

"The persona is, ‘He's a talker.' But people don't know why I talk. I've got a purpose to what I'm saying," Smoot said. "I don't just go out here to talk to each and every player just to be talking to him. My purpose is to talk to this guy and get his mind off his job, let me get another edge on him.

"In this league, there is not too much that separates us in talent, so now you've got to find another way to get an edge. This is the way you get edges: Either you are better coached or I've got your mind off of what you're supposed to be able to do or I've got you totally wondering. This is what it is. It's more of an edge for me."

Many Vikings fans didn't feel like Smoot had much of an edge on his competition when Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith torched the Vikings defense (much of the time beating Smoot in single coverage) for 11 receptions, 201 yards and a touchdown in a 38-13 win for the home team in Carolina.

In fact, 2005 as a whole was a down year for Smoot statistically. It was the first time since his rookie season in 2001 that he had fewer than 50 tackles (he had 44) and the first time in his career that he missed more than two games (he missed five with a collarbone injury). His two interceptions were also the fewest of his career. Finally, Smoot's link to the Vikings' boat scandal and all the negative connotations it brought to the organization last fall helped shut down Smoot from talking to the media for the rest of the season.

But with the rebirth of green grass this spring, Smoot was back talking to the media, even if his mouth on the field didn't seem to be quite as prevalent during practices.

Asked about the perceived quieter approach this spring, Smoot said he's still a talker and that new Vikings head coach Brad Childress – with his more reserved style – isn't putting a muzzle on Smoot's comments.

"He likes me to (talk), get everybody loose," Smoot about Childress. "When you practice hard and you're having fun doing it, it doesn't matter how hard you're practicing. He's getting our work out of us and we're still doing our job."

Smoot called Childress, a first-year head coach in the NFL, a winner and said he likes playing for him despite their personalities seemingly on different planets. The cornerback applauds the new approach Childress is instilling and likes what he sees out of the ownership – bold moves in an effort to return the Vikings to their playoff ways.

"Coming in as a new guy, you're trying to fit in with everybody, see what's going on," said Smoot, who is entering his second year with the Vikings and hoping a renewed commitment to his profession will help him rebound from a trying year on and off the field. "I see what the owners are doing to get us to a first-class organization and get us to a higher level. I'm actually loving it right now."

And if Childress is the winner that Smoot thinks he is, don't expect the mouth from the south to keep quiet on the subject.



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