Wayne Smith has made stops along the entire offensive line in his nine years in the CFL. The one constant through the positional changes, his focus.
“Whether I'm playing left tackle or right tackle, on the inside at centre or guard, there's no job on the offensive line that's more important than the other,” the former first overall draft pick said. “No matter where I'm playing, my goal is to keep that guy off the quarterback.”
The Toronto Argonauts left tackle spent the first three seasons of his career with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, predominately at guard. Smith was the team's Most Outstanding Rookie nominee in 2004 and Most Outstanding Lineman nominee in 2005.
Now, after a stint in Saskatchewan and a return spell with the Ticats last season, Smith is a vital cog with the Argos, and says he's only interested doing what the coaches ask of him and helping the team win.
“Left tackle is where they gave me the opportunity to play, so that's where I'm playing right now. Whatever keeps me on the field and keeps our line productive.”
And while Smith was adamant every position on the offensive line is essential to the offence's overall performance, he did acknowledge the unique challenges he faces protecting QB Ricky Ray's blindside.
“On the outside, you find yourself on much more of an island – there's not as much help as there is on the inside. You find yourself working independently a lot more.”
Smith's main asset to the Argos may be his versatility. The 31-year-old broke into the league as a guard, but his experience and resourcefulness is what gave the Argos confidence putting him at tackle on their all-Canadian offensive line.
“That's what they asked me to do. It's not the first time in my career I've played tackle. I've actually been primarily a tackle for the last five or six years of my career.”
Smith and the Argos face his former team, the Ticats, in Hamilton tonight, this season's first installment of the Southern Ontario rivalry (7pm et/4pm pt on TSN). But the Appalachian State product said he isn't taking any extra motivation into the game.
“It's another football game. We're preparing for the guys we see on film, we're not worried about all the hype, or all the extraneous things that might occur during the game.”
“It's the next 42 players we're facing. You can't put more stock into one game than another.”
That doesn't mean tonight isn't an important game for Smith and the Argos. Talking about how he prepared for the Argos last year as a member of the Ticats, Smith said he always knew those games would be a battle.
“(Last year) it wasn't so much the whole fan rivalry thing, it was you knew any time you played Toronto you were in for a fight. There are really no easy games so you prepare for that.”
Smith will now get a chance to experience the rivalry from the other side, wearing the Double Blue rather than the Black and Gold.