CARDINALS CORNER

Cardinals rookie OL Lecitus Smith not rushing the process in Year 1

Sep 24, 2022, 9:01 AM

Arizona Cardinals OL Lecitus Smith (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...

Arizona Cardinals OL Lecitus Smith (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Not all rookie seasons are created equal.

Some players see their numbers called from the jump. Others are stuck waiting in the wings for their opportunity to get on the field.

Rookie offensive lineman Lecitus Smith finds himself somewhere in the middle, and that’s quite all right with him.

Obviously, Smith would love to see more reps come his way, but until his coaches give him the green light, the lineman is working at perfecting his craft on the practice field and in the film room.

“I want to get thrown out there when it’s the right time,” Smith told Arizona Sports Friday. “I don’t want to get thrown into the fire just to say I was out there with those guys.

“I want to be able to go out there and play at a high level, because what you put on tape is who you are. I want to be looked at as hard-working, good player.”

Smith has played just eight offensive snaps this season, all coming in Week 1, but his rookie season has already been an eventful one.

Aside from grasping life in the NFL, Smith has the added challenge of nailing down an entirely new position down in the trenches: center.

It’s a spot the guard wasn’t accustomed to playing entering the offseason and one that was in no need of an immediate replacement with veteran Rodney Hudson back for another season.

But with injuries a common occurrence in the NFL and the realization that Hudson is nearing the end of his playing career, Smith has a golden opportunity to really make an impact in the near future.

It’s on Smith to put himself in the best position when that time arises. Luckily for him, he’s got a plethora of mentors to turn to, starting with Hudson.

And from the sounds of it, Smith is making the most of his time to pick up the intricacies of the position from Hudson and the rest of the line while also taking in what the coaching staff is throwing his way.

“The game has really slowed down,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday. “He never played center before, so to learn how to snap, do all those things, point it out, get all that, there was a lot on him. But you can tell the comfort level is growing.

“If we needed him to play at guard, we feel like he could get the job done, but we want to develop (Smith at center) with Rodney getting up there in age. We want to develop a young center and he’s a guy who has the mentality to do it.”

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