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ALAMEDA – Antonio Smith is certainly missed back in Houston. The Raiders defensive tackle spent his last five seasons with the Texans, adding a unique brand of humor to that locker room.
He has several alter egos, from the popular Ninja Assassin to a lesser-known fortuneteller named “Tonestradamus.”
He has a way of making serious situations light, without losing focus on the task as hand. He’s a welcome addition when things are going well, even more so when adversity strikes.
“Antonio, as I’m sure you guys have seen by now, is the best,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. “He’s a character to say the least. He’s a great friend, he’s a very loyal teammate. He’s a guy that no matter what the situation, he can always put a smile on your face. He’s just a really good, loyal, humble guy. I was really fortunate to spend some time with him.”
The Texans benefitted from that during a disastrous 2-14 season.
“Even when you want to come to work with a frown on your face, and act all mean or whatever because when you get to losing, everybody takes it in a different way,” Smith said. “I still kind of kept it light every now and then.”
Smith valued his time in Houston, but moved on to the Raiders after signing a two-year contract this offseason. Smith was a dominant interior lineman during his Texans tenure, willingly teaching Watt and other linemates the tricks of his trade.
He’s excited to see them, but hopes his mentorship won’t make life harder on his new team.
“All masters always worry about how the progress of their young Padawans is doing,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to see how they’ve reached master-hood since I left them.”
The Smith has provided a similar service with the Raiders, trying to raise the level of play and discourse for a young set of reserve defensive tackles.
“He’s honest. He tells it like it is, which as a coach or a player, you respect,” defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. “He’s seen everything in this game, so those things make him a great asset to our locker room.
“His personality type is he just says it how it is and sometimes that comes out kind of funny and sometimes that comes out as, ‘Hey man, do your job.’ He’s just being himself and that’s what we need him to be, himself, and keep playing the way he started for us.”