Antonio Smith has an alter ego. NFL player-turned-soothsaying prognosticator, Tonestradamus (nee Antonio Smith) has made predictions that somehow came true.
"'In the Super Bowl there will be a winner and a loser,'" Smith said he once—correctly, I might add—predicted.
Though Tonestradamus (a character Smith said was created on a radio show) might have left the forecasting profession, he said on Monday that he thinks the Broncos could be a team to contend for a Super Bowl.
"I definitely see it in this team. I'm excited about giving whatever I can give towards bringing a Super Bowl to Denver," he said during a conference call with the media. "I think that with a good quarterback and with a good offense, that what they can do is a dangerous combination. I believe whole-heartedly that we have a chance to making that last dance."
What Smith can bring to Denver, he says, is a craftiness cultivated by his years of experience. A durable player who has played a high percentage of snaps (he played between 70 percent and 86 percent of defensive snaps in seven of his last eight years, per Pro Football Focus), Smith has shown high level play as a three-technique lineman. He says his best statistical season was 2012 in which he had seven sacks, 22 tackles, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed.
However, he says that since then he's become a more versatile player.
Take a look through the career of new Broncos defensive lineman Antonio Smith.
"I think that the more seasons I get [through] the more crafty I get in pass rush," Smith said. "I'm picking up new things and I'm learning things that players and coaches around the league are using to try and stop me. I'm getting better, in my opinion. Last year I was coming off a groin injury and at the same time the pass rush opportunities weren't as plentiful as they were in past years. As far as my physical attributes and being capable, I am looking forward to having one of my best seasons this upcoming season."
In regards to his career, that craftiness has contributed beneficially, he added.
"Watching myself and seeing exactly what teams are doing to stop me, and once you find out what they're doing, I'm durable enough and capable enough to change and use any move," Smith said. "I've never had one specific move. I've had specific moves that I've done better than others, but I'm capable of doing all moves. If I need to hump and I switch to the hump, I use power. If I need to use hands, quick hands and outside moves, I've got that. Juke, inside-outside moves, hands, as long as your hands are working and your feet are still quick, which I can still get off that ball, there are probably very few out there that can get off the ball in a way I can. Anytime you've got that working for you, you're going to be pretty effective and disruptive."
Smith says he's "ready to go" for the coming season, having had no other major injuries other than the aforementioned groin injury.
So now he's just ready to get to work with a defense that will look very familiar to him. Head Coach Gary Kubiak, Wade Phillips and Bill Kollar were with Smith in Houston for some of the best years of Texans football.
And not only that, but he'll have a great cast of players around him, including five Pro Bowlers starting on defense, including Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.
"I can't even speak to the volumes [in which] I respect their game," he said. "When Von Miller first came in, me and him off the field had gotten to meet each other and I admired his game even then. I think when you've got two pass rushers like those two, that demands attention. That three-technique on the inside is going to have a field day. When they decide to try and stop that three-technique on the inside, they are going to have a field day. I think that the best complement for edge rushers are corners and an inside three-technique rush guys. The best friends of a three technique rush guy are ends because if they flush the quarterback up and you can beat that guard on the inside, which is probably a lesser athlete than the tackle, you both can have an excellent season and you both can feed off each other. That type of energy and brotherhood where everybody is eating at the quarterback, I think you can complement each other more than anything."