Elerson Smith understands that you may not know his transaction.
Why should you?
Why should Giants fans have his name high on the roster for next season?
“I’m taking advantage of all the opportunities I have to face,” Smith told The Post at the end of the off-season training program. “If people remember my name now or not, it won’t help us win games. I’ll try to take care of the opportunity before me.”
The opportunity before Smith is somewhat vague. The small school field player got into the field last season, at the end of his beginner’s year, so late that he was tempted to forget that he was still there. He did so little during his scarce playing time that it was natural to assume that his shelf life could end when a new coaching regime came in, where the agency that made him fourth choice in the 2021 draft was replaced by Director General Joe. Schoen and other new personnel managers. Smith, tall and skinny, was the keeper, and almost everyone who fought for him a year ago is no longer on the Giants’ pay.
The 23-year-old assailant has another chance to make a first impression, this time with new defense coordinator Wink Martindale and new position coach Drew Wilkins, as well as new head coach Brian Daboll. He wants to go and believes that he will not remain anonymous forever.
“For me, it was just a matter of finding out what their standards were and working from there,” Smith said.
No explanation is needed: if Martindale has an idea that Smith could play a much more aggressive defense, he’ll find a place for him. Azeez Ojulari, who led the team in 2021 with eight bags, will return for the 2nd year. Giants chose Kayvon Thibodeaux’s 2022 drafts general option 5. If they’re healthy, they’re starting off-line defenders. Smith is part of the young players, including Oshane Ximines and Quincy Roche, who are waiting on the wings.
Smith did what he needed in Northern Iowa, dominated by lower competition, 22 games with 38 games, 32.5 losses, 16 assists and six forced throws. Strong thigh muscle tension took him out of the first NFL training camp, took him to the wounded reserve, and left him far behind. Smith made his Giants debut only in Week 9, limited to special teams. He finally defended 103 bats – 60 as a forward – and scored a total of four speeds and two assists with six pressures. His first hit with a loss to the Eagles forced Jalen Hurts to throw.
This spring, Smith got a lot of work done, and with a late schedule of organized team activities, working with the starters instead of the outcast Thibodeaux, Smith put pressure on Tyrod Taylor to blow up the play.
Smith is increasingly looking for a role. He arrived a year ago, more reminiscent of a small striker than an NFL defender, weighing about 245 to 250 pounds, extending beyond his supple 6-foot frame. A year after grinding in the NFL, he’s up to 260 pounds, though he’s still trimmed.
“I’m just tall, stretch it out a little so you don’t get it,” Smith said of his weight.
Martindale loves her line defenders, especially those who are tall. It should fit well with what Smith has to offer.
“I always say it’s a good place for a little person,” Martindale said. “It’s behind a big and tall person in this league, because you know it helps everything. It helps you fight and separate blocks on the opening court and helps you get to 50/50. Length plays a big part in that.”
It didn’t take Smith long to understand what he called “different philosophical approaches” to this new defense. Former defense coordinator Patrick Graham was more concerned with choosing his seats. Forces Martindale to solve the problem. When Smith sees what’s ahead of him and other outside players in Martindale’s system, he realizes the possibilities.
“He does a good job of coming up with aggressive rushes, and it affects a lot of players, which is the line-up player’s dream,” Smith said. “I think I definitely have a place here, but it all starts with understanding the workflow it takes to be a good NFL player, and that’s my goal, to come here, contribute and win games. I definitely feel like that I belong here. ”
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