Why the Chiefs’ new free agent signing thinks he’ll have a rebounding season in 2023

Kansas City Chiefs new left tackle Donovan Smith should have had a front-row seat for teammate Patrick Mahomes, making all kinds of high-difficulty passes during Wednesday’s OTA practice at the facility. crew.

Smith, however, said he didn’t have time to enjoy it all.

“Dawg, right now I’m just trying to put the playbook in writing,” Smith said with a smile after Wednesday’s practice, “and making sure I’m in my right assignments.”

It’s no doubt an adjustment for Smith, 29, who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

However, after being released earlier this offseason, Smith went through free agency for the first time. He said the Chiefs contacted him right after the NFL Draft and the two sides quickly agreed to a one-year contract with a base of $3 million.

“I jumped on a plane, came to visit and it made sense,” Smith said. “So we set this thing in motion.”

More than anything, Smith represents extra safety for a Chiefs team that expects to compete for a second straight Super Bowl.

Before KC added Smith, he reportedly relied on signing free agent Jawaan Taylor to transition smoothly from right tackle to left tackle. Not only that, the Chiefs also should have found a starter at right tackle from the group of Lucas Niang (injured most of last season), Wanya Morris (this year’s third-round draft pick) and Darian Kinnard (2022 fifth- first draft pick who didn’t play a season ago).

Smith’s presence, however, makes things simpler. He’s played left tackle his entire NFL career, which means Taylor can stay on the right side with others battling for backup roles.

The bigger question for Smith is how well he can bounce back from the worst year of his career.

Smith battled elbow and foot injuries a season ago, mostly choosing to play through his ailments. That seems a logical reason for his dip in production, as Smith’s Pro Football Focus rating fell from a career-high 83.3 in 2021 to 58.1 last season.

That last mark was easily the worst of his career.

“It was a little frustrating. I mean obviously I played with a lot more injuries than I probably should have,” Smith said. “But it’s just something we do. We go there, we sacrifice our bodies to go there for the greater good of the team.”

Smith replied “Absolutely” when asked if he was back in full for Chiefs OTA workouts.

“New beginnings, new journey,” Smith said. “I’m healthy. I’m fresh and I feel really good.

Injuries could certainly explain some of Smith’s struggles a year ago; prior to that, his PFF rating had improved every season.

Donovan Smith PFF Offense Level

















Source: Focus on professional football

Smith, who turns 30 next month, said his priorities have changed as an NFL veteran. He won a Super Bowl with quarterback Tom Brady in 2021, but he said that kind of team achievement remains the top priority.

“I’m a selfless person, so the Pro Bowl, all those things…yeah, it’s important, but not really,” Smith said. “I’m more about the championship obviously, and being able to get there and get it – that means a lot more. And then just winning games and having fun. That’s what I think means the most to me. Apart from that, everything else will take care of itself.

If all goes to plan, Smith will use 2023 to show he can get back to previous form.

While also proving that last season was an outlier based on illness – as opposed to a steep drop.

“I know who I am as a player. I know what I can accomplish,” Smith said. “I’ve accomplished a lot, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

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