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Smith Bided His Time

Running back happy to finally get NFL shot


Running back Alfonso Smith got his first NFL opportunity in Seattle last week.

Two weeks ago, Alfonso Smith walked past the handful of reporters who stood on the sidelines waiting for practice to end. 

As a special teams player he knew he wasn't the one they were waiting for.  But, he knew if he did his job and showed the coaches he could play, eventually his time would come.

"I knew I was going to have to come into camp and show them early that I could play," said Smith.  "Playing time would come if I showed I could do everything in the playbook.''

It came in the third game. Injuries to running backs Beanie Wells, Lard Stephen-Howling and Ryan Williams gave the second-year running back out of the University of Kentucky his first opportunity in the backfield against Seattle.

"As a running back you know guys are going to potentially go down and get banged up.  So you have to be ready to step up and step into action at any given time," said Smith.  "Going into the game I didn't know how much playing time I was going to get but I was ready for it and my teammates supported me."

Veteran Chester Taylor started against the Seahawks but it was Smith who ended up with the majority of the carries with 17 rushes for 54 yards in a 13-10 loss.

"Obviously I'm not pleased because we didn't get the victory," said Smith. "I have a lot of work to do and I'm never going to be satisfied."

Smith said family and friends initially were surprised when he told them he was going to get playing time and even more amazed by the number of snaps he got.  But he said he won't let the attention go to his head.

"It comes with the territory," said Smith.  "I'm not really worried about doing interviews and all that stuff.  It comes when you play good and it comes when you play bad.  I just have to go out there and do the best I can.

Smith credits Taylor with helping him step up after the injuries sidelined his teammates.

"[Taylor] has been a mentor to me.  He's been in a whole lot of different situations and just seeing how confident he was going into the situation made me even more confident," said Smith. 

Wells' ongoing hamstring injury could keep the door open for more playing time, especially since he seemed to surpass Taylor in getting work.

"I am always going to prepare as if I am going to go in because you never know," said Smith.  "Anybody can go down or get tired, so I have to be ready to go in.  But, at the same time, I'm going to do my job on special teams if Beanie and LaRod come back."

After being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Smith was mostly relegated to the practice squad last season in his second stint with the club. The Cardinals gave Smith a third chance and signed him to a futures contract earlier this year.

At the University of Kentucky, Smith showed potential during his college years, but injuries and a deep backfield kept him on the sidelines.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Smith continues to improve and was impressed with his play.

"[Smith] has been with us for a year-and-a-half so it was good to see him in a regular season game after mostly being on the practice squad," said Whisenhunt. "He looked fast, he made some good decisions and he ran physically.  I expect to improve if he gets more chances because it's good to see a young guy have success in his first game like that."

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