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ENGLEWOOD, Colo — Antonio “Scooby” Smith is unique in every sense of the word. He opened his first face-to-face press conference with Denver media by saying, “I got stuck all weekend. Nobody gave me the memo not to bring a rear-wheel drive car.” In addition to adjusting to the elevation, the occasional May snowstorm is a possibility as the Front Range saw for the second consecutive Mother’s Day Weekend.
Smith was asked how Head Coach Gary Kubiak, whom he played for in Houston from 2009-13, deals with his distinct personality. “Kube, he kind of grew over the years,” he said. “He’s started to loosen up and let personalities be personalities, just as long as that personality gets the job done. He encourages the personalities now, if you get the job done. Now, if it gets in the way of doing the work, he ain’t too hot on all the extra personality stuff. But, you can grow on him, you can make him get weak on you.”
While he may not know what car to drive in Denver, one thing Antonio Smith won’t have to learn is a new defense. The 12th-year defensive lineman had his most productive years playing for Kubiak and Broncos Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. In Phillips first year as defensive coordinator for The Texans(2011), Smith made the Pro Bowl. Smith, who also refers to himself as “Ninja Assasin,” has been seen working with young players after practice nearly everyday. He said he’d prefer not to stay after, but they keep asking. As for learning his new teammates names, Smith said if he doesn’t know someone’s name, he uses an old trick from a college coach, and just calls them, “Big Daddy.”
After spending last season in Oakland, Smith couldn’t hide his enthusiasm about playing for Phillips again here in Denver. “I’m loving it, I’m enjoying every day,” he said. Smith admitted to playing the role of player/coach early in his arrival at Dove Valley, but, in recent weeks, Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar has taken that burden off Smith’s shoulders a bit. “Bill’s real good at doing extra,” Smith said. “So while the rest of the team’s only learning half the defense, the defensive line knows the whole playbook…After about the first two weeks, everybody pretty much got it. (There) ain’t too much help other technique stuff.”
Smith played his best football along side J.J. Watt in Houston. Last year in Oakland, he graded out well, but the Raiders defense did not. Accordingly, Smith had a hard time hiding his excitement to play alongside perennial Pro Bowler Von Miller and likely Hall-of-Famer DeMarcus Ware. “I don’t think I’ve ever had this many weapons on one defense as I got right now,” Smith said. “All of us talk about the things we’re gonna be able to do, the freedom we’re gonna have because you can’t just single out one person who you want to double-team or try to subdue. Each one of us can get to the quarterback.”
Speaking of quarterbacks, Smith’s current one, Peyton Manning, tormented the Texans year-in year-out and went 2-0 against Oakland last season. Thus, Smith couldn’t be happier to have the future gold jacket wearing signal caller on his side. “It’s kind of giving away defensive lineman secrets,” he said. “But, everybody knows if you’ve got a quarterback who can play this game, you got the most chances to rush the passer. Anytime you’re playing from a lead, you’re gonna get more pass rushing. So, I’m pro-Peyton Manning!”
If you want to hear more of Antonio “Scooby” Smith’s quirky personality, check out a conversation he had with Alfred Williams and DMac a few weeks back when he first got to town on 104.3 The Fan: