Tuesday, February 9, 2016

L.J. Smith: I got labeled in Philly

Former Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is confident that if he can stay healthy, he can be productive.

L.J. Smith: I got labeled in Philly

L.J. Smith is looking forward to a fresh start with the Baltimore Ravens. (Steven M. Falk / File photo)
L.J. Smith is looking forward to a fresh start with the Baltimore Ravens. (Steven M. Falk / File photo)

Former Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is confident that if he can stay healthy, he can be productive.

And he's looking forward to shedding the "injury-prone" label with a fresh start in Baltimore.

"Once you get labeled - and I got labeled the past couple of years as a guy who got hurt - that's something that's hard to fight," he said without a hint of bitterness, according to Edward Lee of The Baltimore Sun. "If it takes two years to get over an injury, it usually takes twice as long to get that label off of you. I don't have much time in the league. This is my seventh year. So I'm just trying to stay healthy, and I think by coming here where these guys are very competitive, it just brings the best out of you."

Smith technically missed just three games last season, but he was banged-up and ineffective for, let's see, 16? Ok, seven catches for 49 yards against the Redskins in Week 16 wasn't bad. We'll make that 15.

He missed six games in 2007.

Smith told The Sun teams were scared off by his injury history during free agency.

"I had a bull's-eye on my back out there," he said. "I think by coming here, a lot of people maybe don't know about me because I'm not out there with the big names. I think coming here and performing the way I know I can perform, I can get people to notice and say, 'Once he gets healthy, he can be a great player.'"

To be honest, I'm not sure what to make of this quote. What does he mean he had a bull's eye? And not being out there with the big names? Does he mean he's just going to a smaller market? Somebody, anybody, help me out here.

It wouldn't shock me if Smith had a decent season. The talent's always been there. It materialized for a couple seasons in 2005 and 2006, but never stuck. A change of scenery will certainly help, and he's with one of the best offensive coordinators in the league in Cam Cameron. I'm not saying Pro Bowl, but a contributor? Maybe.

It certainly sounds like Smith is expecting a new system to be beneficial to his career.

"Before, I was - as Cam said - playing through a straw," he told The Sun. "I was just worried about that guy in front of me. Now in this offense, you can't just worry about yourself. You've got to worry about him and him, what his route is, what your route is.

"In a West Coast offense, you can kind of isolate yourself a little bit. But in this offense, you have to be aware of where everybody is going, the coverages and how they're matching up. It makes you study and become a better football player."

What do we think? A rejuvenated career in Baltimore for L.J.? Yes or no?

And to keep with the tight end theme, in case you missed it, the Eagles have agreed to terms with their fifth-round pick, Cornelius Ingram.

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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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