Camp fires Day 8: Kevin Smith can catch
Every day during training camp, Lions beat writer Dave Birkett takes you inside practice at Allen Park with notes, quotes and observations of interest.
I'm writing about Kevin Smith in tomorrow's notebook, but a few thoughts on the rookie running back before I punch out for the night. Smith, a third-round pick out of Central Florida, took all the first-team reps in a two-minute drill at the end of afternoon practice. Lions coach Rod Marinelli said the staff was simply being conscious of Tatum Bell's work, as it is with a number of veterans during camp. Still, Smith caught the first two passes of the drill then carried on a draw. There's no reason to think he won't start the majority of the season as a rookie.
Incidentally, no one knew much about Smith's hands coming out of college, when he caught just 55 career passes. But Smith insists he can catch. "I wouldn't be surprised sooner or later in my career if I'm at the slot position," Smith said. "No, I'm serious. Running post routes. If Reggie Bush can do it, I can do it."
The scouting report on Smith as a runner hasn't changed much. He doesn't have top-end speed, but he's going to be productive in the NFL as long as he stays healthy because of his excellent vision and quick feet. I think he'll be a touchdown machine in time, too. In goal-line work, he always seems to slither through a hole for positive yardage.
Bell is No. 1 on the depth chart for now, and Smith said he knows his role. "I'm the guy in the preseason game who comes in when all the vets got their reps and I try to show out," he said. "I go in and try to get 100 yards. I'm going to try to go in there and do what I got to do. I ain't going to play with them."