New Raiders TE Lee Smith signs his contract. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Q: Can you describe how this deal came together?
Smith:"Obviously, after finishing my first four years out there in Buffalo, it became pretty clear that I was going to be hitting free agency, so [tight ends coach] Bobby Johnson and [quarterbacks coach] Todd Downing were obviously out here, both of which I've had a relationship with in the past and have been around me and coached me. I figured that they were there and when it was time for teams to get in touch with me, that maybe they would be one of the ones to do it, at least I hoped so. I hoped those two guys would have good things to say about me. So when they call, it was rewarding to know that I kind of impressed those guys over the years and they trust me to get out here and get to work, and get this thing going in the right direction with them."
Q: You were used a lot as a blocking tight end in Buffalo. Do you see that as your strength? Can you do more on the receiving end than you've shown so far?
Smith:"You [inaudible]. You get to work every Sunday for this football team, so whatever package that ends up being is obviously humbling and rewarding for me. I've got four kids at home and I get their support by playing football for a living. Just like anybody else out there, I obviously think I can contribute in many ways to help this football team win. But whatever those ways are, as long as I'm out there playing football every Sunday, then I'll be having a lot of fun and enjoying helping this team win. So sure, of course I can catch the ball if they threw it to me, but whatever they ask me to do is what I'll do."
Q: What is the one part of your game you take the most pride in?
Smith:"Over the years, people have kind of referred to me as a lunch-pail guy and I take a lot of pride in that. Hopefully, the guy that I'm putting my hand in the dirt beside trusts me and can count on me to fight my tail off until the whistle blows, and maybe here and there I might not hear the whistle blow. (laughing) So just the grinding aspect of my game and getting in there with the hogs and fighting my tail off, and hopefully getting the running backs of the Oakland Raiders to the second level is kind of what gets me fired up and excited to play ball."
Q: If playing in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's traditionally run-heavy offense is a natural fit for his blocking capabilities?
Smith:"Absolutely. I'm excited about getting to work with the plans that we have here in Oakland as far as offensively and running the ball. Obviously, Derek's doing great things and is a great young talent. It never hurts the guy taking snaps to get that run game going, it makes it a lot easier. Obviously, that's kind of what we want to do around here, and if they think that I can help with that, then you know what, that's very humbling. I'll buckle my chinstrap and go to work and hopefully, do everything they envision me being able to do."
Q: Rodney Hudson said he felt a positive vibe and attitude in the building when he arrived. Did you also sense that? What did Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie say to you that this team was on the upswing? Smith:"I agree with Rodney. You walk in here and I can promise you, it doesn't feel like it's been that long since they've had a winning season. These guys are fired up. They're obviously making moves and trying to make this football team as great as they can. You've got a great young quarterback. You've got a lot of veteran leadership – obviously, that speaks for itself. The vibe walking in here was definitely great, and I think the sky is the limit for this football team. Obviously, all the tradition out here in Oakland, I can't express enough just how rewarding it is for me to be a part of it and get to work with this group of guys, coaches, players. We'll all be in this thing together, so it's going to be a lot of fun."