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What It Means: Broncos add OG Shelley Smith


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- **In 2013, Shelley Smith looked as though he was on his way to becoming a solid starting guard in the NFL.

It was his breakout season with the St. Louis Rams, with whom he spent two seasons after failing to see a regular-season snap with the Houston Texans. Smith started just two games in 2013, but also played in 12 others and developed a reputation as an agile, effective run blocker, earning him a two-year contract from the Dolphins -- and a starting slot.

But that promise never materialized in Miami. He injured his knee in Week 2 and struggled when he returned, starting just one game from that point forward, and leading to his release Tuesday as a part of the Dolphins' roster makeover.

"I definitely thought I was set for a good year," Smith said. "I hoped to stay on the field the whole year, but things sometimes don't work out that way and injuries happen."

Having recovered from the injury, he should be able to recapture his 2013 form. He said the knee is back to "100 percent."

The fact that he was cut is part of his value; he won't count against the Broncos toward the calculation of compensatory selections in next year's draft because he is a street free agent, not an unrestricted one.

His background with Head Coach Gary Kubiak is another factor; the Texans drafted him in 2010 and kept him around for the 2011 season. Even though he didn't see any regular-season action in Houston, he has more experience in a zone-blocking based scheme than most of his new teammates.

"The zone-blocking scheme has proven to be a very good system, and I think that it fits my capabilities pretty well," Smith said. "I'm familiar with it (and) the terminology, and I kind of know what to expect -- and what they expect out of their players in that system."

A starting slot isn't guaranteed for Smith, who will compete with Ben Garland for playing time at left guard. But Smith, along with other veterans, offers the Broncos a buffer in case of injuries or struggles from some of their young linemen.

"Bascially it's to come in and compete for a starting job, and basically push everybody and try to get better as a group and a team," Smith said of his role.

And even though the Seattle Seahawks pursued him and brought him in for a visit after the Dolphins released him, he found Dove Valley to be his best possible landing spot.

Smith matriculated at Colorado State and maintains his offseason residence in the Denver area, so staying on the Front Range makes sense personally. But the Broncos fit him best from a football perspective, as well.

"The visit with Seattle was fine, but I felt like this would be a lot better fit for me, and I thought that the Broncos had all the pieces from top to bottom, from the front office to the coaches to the players -- all the pieces are there to be very successful and to win a Super Bowl."

*This story was originally posted March 13 and re-written March 14 to include comments from Smith.


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