Lee Smith plays tight end, a position associated with production in the passing game. The former Buffalo Bill doesn’t fit that mold.
Smith is as blue collar as they come, a 6-foot-6, 245-pound mauler who likes to mix it up. The Raiders are just fine with that; it’s a large reason why he was signed to a three-year $9.1 million contract.
“People have kind of referred to me as a lunch-pail guy and I take a lot of pride in that,” Smith said Wednesday in a conference call. “Hopefully, the guy that I’m putting my hand in the dirt beside trusts me and can count on me to fight my tail off until the whistle blows, and maybe here and there I might not hear the whistle blow. (Laughing) So just the grinding aspect of my game and getting in there with the hogs and fighting my tail off, and hopefully getting the running backs of the Oakland Raiders to the second level is kind of what gets me fired up and excited to play ball.”
That’s the attitude Bill Musgrave is looking for to help his power-running game succeed. The Raiders plan on being physical up front, even when they increase the tempo. The Raiders have had to mold blocking tight ends in the recent past, but bringing in Smith fills that role with an expert.
“I’m excited about getting to work with the plans that we have here in Oakland as far as offensively and running the ball,” Smith said. “Obviously, (quarterback Derek Carr is) doing great things and is a great young talent. It never hurts the guy taking snaps to get that run game going, it makes it a lot easier. Obviously, that’s what we want to do around here, and if they think that I can help with that, then you know what, that’s very humbling. I’ll buckle my chinstrap and go to work and hopefully, do everything they envision me being able to do.”
Smith cited previous work with quarterbacks coach Todd Downing and tight ends coach Bobby Johnson in Buffalo as an attraction. So was a valued role in this new offense, even if he won’t make him a feature player on SportsNet Central.
“I’ve got four kids at home and I get their support by playing football for a living,” Smith said. “Just like anybody else out there, I obviously think I can contribute in many ways to help this football team win. But whatever those ways are, as long as I’m out there playing football every Sunday, then I’ll be having a lot of fun and enjoying helping this team win.”