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Q&A with Richard Smith

Posted Jun 16, 2011

Linebackers Coach Richard Smith talks about working in Denver again, gaining three new linebackers through the draft and Pro Bowl aspirations for Von Miller.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Linebackers Coach Richard Smith is a veteran of 23 NFL seasons, including the last two with Head Coach John Fox in Carolina. This season marks his second stint with the Broncos -- he coached special teams from 1993-96 with added responsibilities of coaching linebackers from 1993-94.

The veteran coach who has helped nine players to a total of 10 Pro Bowl selections talked with DenverBroncos.com before coaches headed on a short vacation.

What has this offseason been like for you?
"I think we're disappointed not to have an opportunity to work with our players. We watch them on film, we've spent plenty of time watching them on film from the last two years, so we have a good feel about each one as a football player. But not getting a chance to meet them as a person and being able to have an opportunity to work with them is very disappointing from that standpoint. But I think (Defensive Coordinator) Dennis Allen and (Head Coach) John Fox have put together a great schedule. We've utilized this opportunity to not only study our own football team, and we did a great job in the draft, but have an opportunity to study our opponents from this upcoming season and jump start on the Raiders, our opening game. So from that standpoint, we're ready to go any time this lockout gets completed."

Has it given you an opportunity to do anything football-wise you normally wouldn't if there were OTAs and workouts?
"Just like I said, I think we've done a great job because Coach Fox had us prepare for OTAs, so we've already done that, prepare for minicamps, we've already done that, prepare for training camp, we've already got that taken care of. So from that standpoint we're ready to go. All we need is for the lockout to be finished and have an opportunity to get these players in here and start working with thme."

Are you excited to be back in Denver?
"Out of all the places I've coached in quite a few years in the league -- I think 24 now -- Denver has always been one of my favorite spots. Not only the city of Denver in terms of the area and the quality of life, but the people involved that love football. Having that support. Also the time that I was here we had success. I remember my last year here we won 13 football games. Maybe that's a part of it, but more importantly I think what's exciting for me is I already know Mr. (Owner and CEO Pat) Bowlen and respect the world of him. I think I have the opportunity to work for one of the better owners in the league. (Executive Vice President of Football Operations) John Elway, I admired him not only as a player but as a person. I was very close with his father, so that makes it exciting for me. And also having an opportunity to work with John Fox again, who I think is a special person. Not only is he a great football coach, but he's a great human being and his personality, his people skills will bring energy not only to this football team but I think to this city."

Was the draft like Christmas for you, gaining three new players at linebacker?
"I hope we continue to do that. Next year, I hate to be selfish, but I hope we draft three more. (laughs) No, I'm just teasing. But what happened is there was a need in that area. When we converted from a 3-4 over to a 4-3, when you look at it, we needed to get some players in this particular position. Having an opportunity to get Von Miller, not only did we do a very good job of evaluating him and watching him at the combine -- I personally went out there and worked him out, and John Elway and (General Manager) Brian (Xanders) and John Fox jumped on a plane and went out there to watch this personal workout with him. Also a third equation was we brought him in here and spent a day with him. From that standpoint, we know all his strengths, all his weaknesses and what he's got to get accomplished. He's got freak ability and I think it's hard when you have an athlete like that, with that type of ability, he's got all the stuff you can't coach. Now it's an opportunity where he's going to get bigger and he's going to get stronger, he's going to learn our system, and then it's our job as coaches to put him in positions where he has the ability to be as successful as he was in college."

Having coached Pro Bowlers the likes of Jon Beason, Julian Peterson, Ken Norton, Jr. and Karl Mecklenburg, do you think Miller can get to that level?
"Any time you have that kind of ability, yes he has Pro Bowl-type ability. But once again, he hasn't done it yet. He's got to go out and earn those stripes from his teammates and that will carry over to the rest of the league. Does he have great work ethic? What impressed me about him was not only his ability -- that was very impressive -- but this guy is a team guy. He loves the game of football. I think anytime you have time to sit down and spend quality time with him, which I'm good friends with (Texas A&M Head Coach) Mike Sherman, we were both coordinators with the Houston Texas together, so I've got a great deal of respect for Mike. Mike and I visited quite a long time on (Miller), and this guy is good for your locker room. He cares about the football team. I think his ability to push himself and the drive that he'll have to make sure he's successful so he doesn't let down his teammates, that comes from the heart. That's who the young man is. So I think when you've got those things, it's not going to be a hard motivational sell. It's just going to be teaching him, correcting him and also trying to put him in good positions to make some plays."