The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

July 30, 2013

Smith finds proper balance between NICE & NASTY

Second-year safety is one of the defensive leaders

(Continued)

Smith said that reviewing his rookie season, too much was made of playing aggressively or finding the balance between hustle and intimidation.

"As long as you're doing your job, everything works out," he said.

Smith and safety Jamarca Sanford started the last 14 games together, building chemistry between two of the secondary's young leaders. It was a relationship that Sanford said was immediate.

"We're two of the same kind of players," Sanford said. "We both love to play in the box. We're guys who like to play real physical."

With the departure of veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield, the secondary is void of an obvious leader. Sanford is the most experienced player at five seasons, and cornerback Chris Cook has been here four. But given his position, Smith is another person who will be counted on for leadership.

"In my opinion, you can't be a leader without having the respect of all the guys," Smith said. "You can't force it; it has to happen. I look forward to working on that and getting better at it."

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