Despite being assigned the same number and same locker he had when he played for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2009-15, Andre Smith called his return to the franchise a ‘fresh start.’
That’s because the Smith, who played all 86 of his games in an eight-year career at tackle, is making the move to guard.
“It’s actually something I’m looking forward to,” Smith said Monday on the first day of the voluntary offseason workout program. “Anything to prolong my career, anything to help myself value-wise. I can play guard and tackle. I think (offensive line coach Paul Alexander) is a great teacher and I am eager to learn from them.”
After seven seasons in Cincinnati, Smith signed a one-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings when the Bengals drafted tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher with their first two picks in 2015.
Smith played appeared in just four games before suffering a season-ending triceps injury. He missed the final five games of the 2014 season with the same injury.
“I went through it one time before, so I went through the process of coming back so that kind of helped me as the hard times arose,” he said. “I didn’t have any falloffs or anything, so it was really good.
“Last year was unfortunate, but this year I see myself with more opportunity playing guard,” he added. “If the opportunity presents itself, I can pop out (to tackle) if you need me to.”