Smith: “Every time I come to camp, the first thing that’s always on my list is just knocking the cobwebs off, just trying to perfect my craft. I think that’s what you should do first and foremost before anything. If you can perfect your craft at the same time as you get into shape, and get back into football shape, getting your body into football movements, the better you will get. If you come to camp thinking, ‘I just gotta make it through, or I’m just trying to get in shape,’ you lose your technique, you lose your edge.”
Smith: “We’ve got a heck of a defense. We got something special here. But whenever you have something special, you always have to have the glue to keep it together. That’s a mind frame you have to build in camp, where they have to learn who we are and trust us, and we have to learn who they are and trust them. Once you build that bond as a brother and get that trust going, that’s when you build something special. Even though you got the talent, if you can never play together, you will never be anything.”
Q: You played primarily as a 3-4 defensive end, and now you are switching to a 4-3 defensive tackle. How is that transition going for you?
Smith: “No transition. I was a 3-technique there, and now I’m a 3-technique here. They call it a different thing, a 3-4 they call it an end, but you still have a 3-technique, which is a tackle, and when you get a 4-3 they just call it a tackle. It’s a good thing for me because I’m playing the same thing I’ve always played, minus a couple double teams here and there.”
Q: There’s nothing particular you have to focus on differently with what you’re doing here?
Smith: “The only thing that I have to focus on differently is just picking up the defense. This defense is different than I’ve ever been a part of. This defense has a lot of names for different things. Some things are the same thing, but they call it different. I know that probably confused you, but sometimes it gets me. Once you get that down, everything will be all right.”
Q: What’s your observation of
Smith: “Schaubby getting his mojo back. He’s getting his confidence back. He’s starting to believe in himself again, he’s starting to throw with confidence. Those are things that you need from a successful quarterback. You would be surprised just how much a mindset is important is in this game, how much believing in what you can do, how far it gets you. The moment you start doubting yourself is the moment you start throwing interceptions.”
Q: Have you looked back and tried to figure out what happened last year or what exactly went wrong?
Smith: “It was like a snowball effect. A lot of things went wrong early on, even though we felt like we were playing some good ball. You had key things happen to you in key moments, lost a few games and everyone started panicking, trying to find what’s wrong, and things just get all out of whack. And before you know it it’s another game, another game, and another game.”
Q: You haven’t missed a game in eight years, but had this freak injury in the offseason. Did that scare you?
Smith: “I mean it didn’t really scare me, I knew I was going to be all right, especially from what everybody was saying, all the doctors were saying that it was going to feel a little out of whack at first, but everything would come right back. It was something different I hadn’t experienced before, it threw my offseason workout, kind of off. I wasn’t able to do things I normally would be able to do. But I’m better now.”
Q: What happened there?
Smith: “I had a sports hernia. But I don’t know the technical name for it.”
Q: It happened when you were working out?
Smith: “Well that’s when I felt it. I felt it then, but when I went and talked to the doctor he said it was probably going on without you even knowing it over the years and gave away then.
Q: Many of the critics of the Raiders keep hammering on this age, over 30 thing. Do you feel like the injury fueled that criticism?
Smith: “They can criticize all they want. But [Justin] Tuck, me, and [
Q: Did you enjoy the Raiders fans? There’s a lot of characters back in Houston. You must have liked all the face paint.
Smith: “Houston, they wasn’t as extreme. We had some good fans out there, I can’t lie. They really supported. But I had never seen fans like I see here in Oakland. They come for a show, they go all out for their team. What person wouldn’t want to play for fans that do that, who love it that much?”
Q: Are you still going ninja, coming out of the tunnel?
Smith: “He is all right, man. That’s a secret though, don’t tell nobody.”
Q: You looking forward to having pads on tomorrow?
Smith: “ No, you ain’t gonna see no lie come out of my mouth, just for the camera.”