Chiefs Find Spark Plug in Smith

Posted Sep 9, 2010

Shaun Smith brings something different to the table from both a personnel and personal perspective

When the Chiefs signed DL Shaun Smith this off-season, we knew that we were getting a player who could help provide depth along the defensive front. Smith has ties to Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, turning in the two best years of his career under Crennel in Cleveland. He can also play any position along the defensive line. The fit with Kansas City was obvious.

It wasn’t until later, however, that we realized exactly WHO we were getting in Shaun Smith.

“He’s an interesting character – a little different than a lot of guys that we have around here,” Todd Haley said of Smith earlier this year. “He’ll say what he thinks most of the time, but he livens things up to say the least. He’s like a bunch of these other guys that I know seize the opportunity to rise up from where he’s been and I think he’s putting everything into trying to maximize that opportunity.”

Already the Chiefs biggest defensive lineman (6-2, 325), Smith is quickly taking over as the biggest personality in the locker room as well. After practices Smith is often seen (and heard) joking with teammates from the stool that sits just outside his locker. During practices and games, Smith is seen doing the dirty work in the trenches; another place that he can often times be heard.

 In short, Smith likes to talk.

He talks to teammates. He talks to trainers. He talks to equipment managers and, of course, he talks to the players that line up across from him. Call it trash talking or call something else, but there’s little doubt that Smith has established a presence with his new team both on and off the field.

 “I talk to everybody, that’s just part of my game,” Smith said. “That’s just my personality. I like to talk and have fun. I’m playing a game and doing what I love to do.”

When it comes to trash talk, there’s a fine line between becoming a distraction and being a respected teammate. Thus far, Smith has walked the line perfectly. He’s the player who opponents hate, but teammates love. Most good teams roster a player like that.

“The main thing is to just pick and choose when to do it,” Smith explained. “On a gameday that definitely helps guys, because if I’m going and I’m riled up, especially after making a big play, the team feeds off the energy and that’s what you need every now and then. Some guys have to feed off each other to keep going and I feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”

A benefit of Smith’s big personality came into play during the dog days of training camp when the Chiefs were struggling to match the practice tempo that coaches were expecting. Both sides of the ball labored through practice for well over an hour that day before Smith chimed in with some trash talk audible to everyone in the surrounding area during a live goal line session.

The talk sparked the defense, which then triggered a response from the offense. The ensuing result was a practice that took a 180-degree turn to become one of the most competitive of camp.

“I just said it to the coaches – we made a step today because we turned the tide,” Haley said following practice that day. “Whether it was Shaun getting everybody going, whatever the catalyst was, it got going and that was good.”

Smith’s approach to talking during practices is a bit different than it is on gamedays, but sometimes the two cross paths with one another. Such is the case with RB Thomas Jones, a player whose game Smith once tried to throw off as an opponent. The two now carpool with one another to Arrowhead in the mornings.

 “We used to play each other all of the time, so I used to talk trash to him all the time,” Smith remembered. “I also talk trash to him now on the way to work in the mornings because we ride together. He’s a good dude, but I always talk trash to him.”

Though Smith still talks to Jones on the field as well, it’s in a much different manner now that the two are teammates.      

 “I talk trash to get in a person’s head or to get a guy to jump offsides,” Smith said. “I talk about everything; their mom, their girlfriend and then if they got in trouble off the field. I bring anything to the game to use to my advantage to try and get them to jump offsides or do something to retaliate, like hitting me in the back or something. Hey, we’ll take 15 yards going back the other way.

 “Some get mad and some don’t,” Smith continued. “Some just get quiet, just like BW (Brian Waters). That’s another guy that I used to talk trash to, but he’d just get quiet and just play hard and try to kill you, basically.”

To each his own.

Smith brings a little something different to the table; something that the Chiefs were missing from both a personnel and personal perspective.

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