Former Jag Smith spinning his way into contention for roster spot


The No. 94 jersey Cincinnati Bengals fans have grown used to seeing over the last decade is considerably smaller this season.

And noticeably quicker.

Chris Smith, the 6-foot-1, 266-pound defensive end the Bengals acquired in a trade with Jacksonville this offseason, has inherited the number worn by the 6-3, 325-pound Domata Peko for 11 seasons. But unlike Peko, who was a massive, run-stopping presence in the middle of the line, Smith has been using his speed to spend a lot of time in the backfield through the first week of camp.

“He’s working his tail off to make the football team,” said coach Marvin Lewis, who added that Smith was a player who stuck out on film last year when the Bengals were preparing to play the Jaguars in the third preseason game.

“Once you’ve been somewhere else, you end up with a different perspective when you come to a new team,” Lewis said. “He understands the competitive part of it. He was out of a 4-3 scheme (in Jacksonville), so it’s an easy transition for him up here. Terminology might be slightly different, but most of the fundamentals are easy to do. He’s been able to make the transition very easily.”

›› RELATED: Bengals plan to take advantage of relaxed celebration rules this year

Jacksonville selected Smith in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of Arkansas, and he appeared in 19 games the last three seasons with three sacks. But the Jaguars dealt him to the Bengals in April for a conditional 2018 draft pick.

“There was stuff that went down in Jacksonville I couldn’t control,” Smith said. “I thought they were releasing me at first the way (Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell’s) tone was, but he said the Bengals are trading for you.”

Follow Jay Morrison on Twitter

Three weeks later, the Bengals drafted back-to-back defensive ends, taking Jordan Willis in the third round and Carl Lawson in the fourth to add to a group that already includes two-time Pro Bowler Carlos Dunlap, veterans Michael Johnson and Wallace Gilberry and 2014 third-round pick Will Clarke.

But Smith said he isn’t concerned with trying to figure out the numbers game at his crowded position.

“I just play with the cards I’m dealt,” he said. “I control what I can control. The one thing I can control is me getting off the ball, pass rushing. Do what they brought me here to do, and that’s get after the quarterback.”

›› MORE: Observations from Day 6 of Bengals training camp

Smith takes pride in his quick get off, and he’s working to use his quickness to help him develop the move he watched a couple of his idols, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, use to build Hall of Fame resumes.

“I’m not Freeney, but I love the spin move,” Smith said. “I watched him since high school. I love that spin, that outside move. That’s one thing I try to perfect each and every day.”

JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Like our Cincinnati Bengals News Now Facebook page

Smith played what he called the “Leo” position in Jacksonville, which at times required him to line up as an outside linebacker, but with his hand in the grass. He added some weight to help in the run game, but he’s trimmed down since arriving in Cincinnati to help his speed off the edge.

“I’m glad to be in the situation I’m in,” Smith said. “That’s the one thing, this is a true 4-3 defense. I like playing with guys like Pacman (Jones) and Dre (Kirkpatrick) and Vontaze (Burfict), guys who play with a bunch of heart it makes me go faster.

“I’m happy to be a Bengal.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Three area teams top regions in first OHSAA computer ratings
Three area teams top regions in first OHSAA computer ratings

Top-ranked Chaminade Julienne and Coldwater joined Bellbrook as the No. 1 teams in their respective regions of the first Ohio High School Athletic Association computer football ratings released on Tuesday. The ratings made their debut after Week 4 games. The Associated Press announced its first high school state football polls last week. CJ and Coldwater...
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension
Cincinnati Bengals sign kicker Bullock to contract extension

The Bengals on Tuesday rewarded kicker Randy Bullock for his reliability. The Bengals signed Bullock to two-year contract extension through the 2020 season. Bullock was in the final season of a two-year deal. »RELATED: Panthers’ offensive style presents challenges for Bengals Since joining the Bengals during the 2016 season, Bullock has...
High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?
High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association made its football computer ratings debut on Tuesday. The top eight schools from each region in the final report Oct. 29 will qualify for the playoffs. Region 1 - 1. Mentor (4-0) 11.65, 2. Solon (4-0) 9.575, 3. Euclid (3-1) 8.875, 4. Canton McKinley (4-0) 7.9242, 5. Austintown-Fitch (3-1) 7.8, 6. Strongsville...
Urban Meyer reveals his role in Ohio State offense moving forward
Urban Meyer reveals his role in Ohio State offense moving forward

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?  That apparently is Urban Meyer’s thinking as he returns to the sideline this weekend for Ohio State football after a three-game suspension.  “I think I’ll be involved more as a game manager at this point,” the coach said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday afternoon...
Panthers’ college-style offense presents Bengals with unique challenge
Panthers’ college-style offense presents Bengals with unique challenge

While the Carolinas continue to recover from the flooding left by Hurricane Florence, the Cincinnati Bengals are preparing for a Week 3 road matchup with the Panthers. The teams meet at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Carolina (1-1) is coming off a 31-24 loss at Atlanta but will provide the Bengals (2-0) with a challenge in the...
More Stories