After re-signing with the Baltimore Ravens Feb. 6, offensive lineman Andre Smith is excited to return to a winning culture and organization.
Smith, an 11-year veteran in the NFL, originally signed with the Ravens Jan. 8 after being cut by the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Ravens’ winning tradition made it a no-brainer to stay in Baltimore on a one-year deal.
“I’ve been around the league and been on a few teams, different organizations and just to see a team all about football and all about winning is [great to see],” Smith said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 11. “It’s great to see the culture they’ve built in the locker room and the building as well.”
James Urban, the quarterbacks coach for the Ravens, spent six years in Cincinnati from 2011-2017 as the Bengals’ wide receivers coach before joining Baltimore in 2018. After Smith was released by the Bengals in late November, Urban encouraged the longtime right tackle to sign with the Ravens.
“We’ve worked together for a few years and we had a lot of success while we were together in Cincinnati,” Smith said. “He was one familiar face that I reached out to. He had great things to say about the organization and told me I would love to be here, and he didn’t let me down.”
Smith, 33, also had good relationships with Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome, who starred at Alabama as a tight end, and running back Mark Ingram, who he played with in 2008 under Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. He’s also friendly with old college rival Josh Bynes, a linebacker who played at Auburn.
Smith played at Alabama from 2006-2008. In 2008, Smith was awarded the Outland Trophy, which is given to the best interior lineman in the country. Ingram ran for 728 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2008 with Smith’s help.
“I blocked for Mark Ingram when he was a freshman,” Smith said. “Mark is the type of back that will make the offensive line right. He’s going to set up the block for you. I got the experience to watch him work so it was great to see a running back still busting his butt and working hard with all the success he’s had.”
Cincinnati made Smith the No. 6 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, and he went on to play for the Bengals for parts of 10 seasons. The team cut him last year because it wanted to give other players looks during a lost season, Smith said.
However, Smith did not believe his career was over. Smith had been asked to fill in at left tackle for the Bengals in 2019.
“I think I played well being in an unknown world playing left tackle in the NFL and starting when I just arrived there,” Smith said. “I thought I played well [with it] being my first time. I knew I had some more football left in me and Baltimore thought I did also.”
Smith said he’s willing to move around again next year. Longtime Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda is pondering retirement.
“Just the opportunity to play whether it’s guard or tackle will be great for me,” Smith said. “The more you can do, the longer you can play in the NFL.”
Smith brings a veteran presence to a team that went 14-2 during the regular season with second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. Smith is embracing his current role as a backup. He’s looking forward to working with tackles Orlando Brown Jr. and Ronnie Stanley for a full season.
“They’re both young guys, so they’re going to be the stars for the future,” Smith said. “So, I’m just going to come in and just push them and make sure they’re handling their business throughout the week.”
Smith is excited about what lies ahead for the Ravens, who ended 2019 on a sour note with a divisional round loss to the Tennessee Titans.
“Every season is a new season,” Smith said. “You can’t look at the past. I think guys are going to come in and compete like and we’re going to put the best product on the field that we possibly can. I think it’s going to be a lot of great success next year and we just have to make sure we execute it and do the small things to get there.”
To hear more from Smith, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens