View Full Version : Troy Smith opens Steelers tenure with jab at Browns

05-29-2012, 06:22 PM
Troy Smith opens Steelers tenure with jab at Browns
By Marc Sessler

Published: May 29, 2012 at 06:13 p.m.
Updated: May 29, 2012 at 07:04 p.m.

We're in a stretch of the offseason made rich by the sheer number of project players and castoffs -- especially quarterbacks -- looking for new life in the NFL.

Case in point: Troy Smith. The 2006 Heisman Trophy winner hasn't played in the NFL since 2010, but he's hoping to catch on with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he'll need to outduel veterans Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch. (Anyone who read our love letter to NFL backups knows that toppling Batch won't come easy.)

Smith, however, doesn't lack confidence. Looking back on his three-year run with the Baltimore Ravens, Smith told The Associated Press that if he hadn't come down with tonsillitis in 2008 and lost 45 pounds, he would have given then-rookie Joe Flacco a run for his money.

"We still competed," Smith said. "If I don't become sick, we're probably not talking about this."

Um-hmm. Moving through the AFC North (and making matters somewhat complex on the home front), Smith's family is littered with Browns fans. The former Ohio State star grew up rooting for Pittsburgh's age-old rival but promises there won't be a conflict playing for the Steelers. Besides, Cleveland never picked up the phone. Pittsburgh did.

"(The Browns have) been making baffling decisions ... for a long time," Smith said. "They drive my mom crazy."

Upshot: We're hearing a fair amount of colorful conversation from a quarterback who spent last season with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL. Here in May, that's not unusual. We'll be more surprised if Smith is in the conversation come September.

Hawaii 5-0
05-29-2012, 07:03 PM

Hawaii 5-0
05-29-2012, 07:27 PM
Heisman winner Smith looking to revive career

UPDATED MAY 29, 2012

The Heisman Trophy Troy Smith won at Ohio State in 2006 lays in storage somewhere in Cleveland.

The quarterback is hoping his career avoids the same fate.

Smith is trying to break back into the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who signed him in the offseason as an insurance policy during organized team activities and training camp.

The 27-year-old who dazzled while leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and a berth in the national title game during his senior season is now a journeyman trying to beat out established veterans Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch for a spot behind Ben Roethlisberger.

The odds are long. Time is short. Yet Smith hardly seems stressed.

''I've always had to do a little bit more,'' Smith said. ''That's the only way that I've approached working. That's the only way that I've approached life. You get out what you put in.''

Maybe, though Smith acknowledges this isn't where he expected to be at this point in his life. Selected in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by Baltimore, Smith made the team and started two games, including a 27-21 win over the Steelers in the regular season finale.

The victory capped an otherwise miserable 5-11 season for the Ravens, who promptly drafted Joe Flacco the following spring. Smith welcomed the competition, but it was over before it barely began when he developed Lemierre's syndrome.

The illness starts as a sore throat then blossoms into an infection. In Smith's case, the disease attacked the pain receptors in Smith's lungs. A bout with tonsillitis followed and he dropped 45 pounds off his 6-foot frame.

Smith never did compete with Flacco for the job and when Flacco led the Ravens to the playoffs as a rookie, Smith was rendered a backup. Baltimore cut him after the 2009 season and Smith landed a spot in San Francisco.

He ended up starting six games, posting a 3-3 record while passing for 1,176 yards with five touchdowns against four interceptions. Solid numbers, but not enough to keep him from losing his job when Jim Harbaugh took over as coach.

The phone stopped ringing and Smith found himself taking a job with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. He started just one game, throwing for 191 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to the Sacramento Mountain Lions.

Hardly Ohio State-Michigan.

Yet Smith doesn't consider his time in the UFL a setback, pointing out ''guys want to take a quarterback's head off, no matter what league it is.''

He did enough to earn a call from the Steelers, a team he grew up rooting against while growing up in Cleveland. There were other opportunities, Smith said, but the Browns weren't one of them.

When asked if he thought it was odd Cleveland didn't reach out considering the team's unsettled quarterback situation, Smith just shrugged his shoulders.

''They've been making decisions like that in the city for a long time, baffling decisions,'' he said.

The Browns addressed their quarterback needs in the draft by taking Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, who is actually a year older than Smith. He didn't take it personally, though pointing out the team ''drives my mom crazy.''

Smith is hoping for a little sanity in Pittsburgh, where he faces an uphill battle to make it to September. Making things even more difficult is the task of trying to decipher new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's playbook while working with the fourth string.

His travels as a pro have made him a quick learner. Whenever he gets into a new system, he simply hits the delete button in his brain.

''What you have to do literally is you have to take everything you know with one offense, let it go and start over new,'' Smith said. ''That can be kind of nerve-racking at times, but that's football.''

Smith understands trying to stand out will be difficult. During organized team activities on Tuesday coaches had to interrupt several plays with Smith under center to get skill players in the right spot. Not Smith's fault, exactly, but not the best way to win over the staff.

The Steelers are experimenting at the moment, with Smith at the forefront. Hey, somebody's got to do it.

''If I'm a guinea pig, so be it,'' he said, ''but I'm a decent guinea pig.''


05-29-2012, 10:46 PM
I'd love to see Smith make the team as third string. I love Charlie but he's made of glass and he's old -- maybe it's time to hang 'em up. At this point in his career Leftwich gives you that veteran backup presence and knows how the Steelers operate; Charlie doesn't really have a playbook advantage anymore either with Haley coming in. Not that I'm Troy Smith's biggest fan but he should be a serviceable emergency quarterback and it isn't like we have a young stud to groom. I almost feel like we should draft somebody next year around Round 3, maybe a Geno Smith, and go with Ben, Troy Smith, and Geno Smith, and actually groom Geno for a few years, approach our QB progression the way Green Bay did.

05-29-2012, 11:05 PM
Heisman hopeful? Smith endeavors to become only second trophy winner to play for Steelers
May 29, 2012 7:24 pm
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Troy Smith already made history against the Steelers, and now he is trying to create a little more, this time with them. He remains the only rookie quarterback to beat a Dick LeBeau Steelers defense in this century, and now he's trying to become the second Heisman Trophy winner to play for them in their 80-season history.

Notre Dame halfback Johnny Lattner, the 1953 Heisman winner, was the Steelers' first-round draft choice in 1954. He played one season for them. They previously tried to lure another Heisman winner, Army's Doc Blanchard, by drafting him first in 1946. The Army, however, turned down his request to play pro football and he became a fighter pilot instead.

So now it's Smith's turn as the 2006 Heisman winner from Ohio State, and while there would seem to be no room at quarterback on a roster filled with veterans, well, you never know.

"I wouldn't say I'm trying to buck anybody," said Smith, one of five quarterbacks on the roster. "More so than anything, I would say I'm trying to fit in, trying to be the best teammate I can. And as a quarterback my learning curve is ever-evolving. I'm doing nothing but learning from these vets."

Those vets include Ben Roethlisberger, 30, and his two elder-statesman backups: Byron Leftwich, 32, and Charlie Batch, 37. Former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson, 23, is also on the 90-man roster.

Smith is no spring chicken either. He turns 28 in July and entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice of the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. That Dec. 30, he started for the Ravens and beat the Steelers with one touchdown pass and no turnovers. In the 13 other games in which rookie quarterbacks started against LeBeau's defense since his '04 return as coordinator, all were Steelers victories.

If that win was a treasured milestone in Smith's now-checkered career, he gave little indication of it after practice Tuesday.

"When you're trying to be great, trying to be something, there's a long list of things you have to do and just one win doesn't amount to anything," he said. "You have to just keep winning."

He did some of that, but one thing or another derailed him. He might have opened the 2008 season as the Ravens starter but came down with a rare bacterial illness, Lemierre's Syndrome, as he prepared to start the third preseason game. He lost 45 pounds and the job to rookie Joe Flacco.

He's philosophical about how things turned out: "It's life," he said. He played in 10 games with no starts in '08 and '09 with Baltimore, which cut him before the '10 season. San Francisco signed him and he started six games for the 49ers, passing for 356 yards against St. Louis. Nevertheless, the 49ers cut him after that season and he played in '11 for the Oklahoma Nighthawks of the UFL.

Smith refuses to blame anything for his setbacks or decry his luck. He does not think standing just 6 feet tall in a world of 6-foot-5 quarterbacks has held him back. He wants to do just one thing now, to resume his career in the NFL.

A Cleveland native who grew up loving the Browns, he'd like nothing else than to play them twice a year. He had other offers to join teams this year, but none from his hometown.

"You want to be around men who treat you like men, not a domineering situation," he reasoned for picking the Steelers. "From everything I got a chance to hear, meet and know these people, it's nothing but good feeling around here; that's the sole reason I chose here.

"There was opportunity everywhere. I just want to be part of something special."

But can he? Can he convince the Steelers to part ways with Batch after all these years? The Steelers have released a handful of some of their most beloved veterans this year.

Batch and Leftwich have had injuries in the past several seasons, but both appear healthy now and cap-friendly with their one-year deals. Smith's mission to convince the Steelers to make a change won't be easy.

"I've always had to do a little bit more," Smith said. "That's the only way I've approached working, the only way I've approached life. You get out what you put in."
No. 3 pick signs
The Steelers signed another draft pick, linebacker Sean Spence, to a

four-year contract. That leaves one rookie left unsigned,

first-rounder David DeCastro. Spence, selected in the third round from

the University of Miami, has been participating in their spring

practices. He joined seven other rookies drafted this year under

contract. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com

05-30-2012, 08:09 AM
i'd love to see Smith play to his potential and become a backup. I like Batch's teamwork and 'coach' abilities behind the scenes, but he sucks at playing the position.

05-30-2012, 08:47 AM
With the injury proneness of Batch and Lefty I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Troy Smith on the roster this year. The real surprise would be if 4th guy Jerrod Johnson makes it.

Johnson's junior season at Texas A+M he had a 59.6% comp. %, 3,579 yards, 30 TDS, 8 INTS, 506 yards rushing w another 8 rushing TDs. His passer ratings his 3 years as a starter were 137.4, 136.7, and 125.4 and he had just over 8,000 career passing yards, 83 TDs and 27 INTs. He's also 6'5" 251 lbs.

05-30-2012, 12:24 PM
Nothing is stopping Troy Smith except himself.

When he starts getting the wrong idea that he is the Steelers' franchise and demands special treatment for his Heisman, that's where he puts himself in a bad spot.

Ben is the Franchise. What Troy can do is be the dependable guy. Backup QB's are invaluable. You saw what happened to Indy once they lost Manning. Homestead Charlie isn't going to last forever and Lefty is made of glass.

67 calsteel
05-30-2012, 05:56 PM
I am hoping that the 3rd quaterback is Jerrod Johnson.I may be old but i like the idea of having a young quarterback on the roster to develop.We are not expecting him to start any games this season but if he shows good potential this season he might be a good cheap backup next season.

Leftwich would be the number 2 Quarteback.Even if he gets hurt nobody is going to sign Batch so we could always resign him.

Fire Arians
05-30-2012, 05:57 PM

Hawaii 5-0
05-31-2012, 04:20 PM
MarkKaboly_Trib via twitter:

"Lawerence Timmons lost a long-ball throwing contest against Troy Smith afrter pratice. Timmons threw 68 yards. Smith a lot longer than that."


06-01-2012, 08:09 AM
RE: The Browns,

Joey Porter said it best: " Hey ya'll, when your on the Turnpike headin'
home after the game, ya'all goin' back the same way ya came.... a loser!!!!

That is the best put down line I've heard ever.

Buddha Bus
06-01-2012, 08:44 AM
I also believe we should hope Smith can make the team and make Batch expendable. I'd rather see Batch coaching at this stage and we are sorely in need of some youth at the backup QB position that can stay healthy in case of an emergency.

Thankfully, with our newly revamped o-line, Ben can hopefully get hit a lot less and remain healthy himself to keep whoever his backups are holding clipboards.

06-01-2012, 12:05 PM
MarkKaboly_Trib via twitter:

"Lawerence Timmons lost a long-ball throwing contest against Troy Smith afrter pratice. Timmons threw 68 yards. Smith a lot longer than that."


WOW. Not sure even Ben can throw the ball 70 yards.

06-02-2012, 09:17 AM
WOW. Not sure even Ben can throw the ball 70 yards.

Yeah wouldn't Ben be in the running if he could? Hmmm? Those Mike Wallace deep throws do look under thrown at times don't they?