Well, Week 17 of the NFL is here, unfortunately. The 2018 campaign was loaded with all kinds of obstacles, challenges and, of course, excitement. The best part of it was that our many NFL Regional Combine pioneers had grown and improved in the league. And it will continue through the final hours of the regular season.
IS SMITH READY TO BE TRUSTED?
It is no secret that Houston Texans rookie Vyncint Smith has talent and can play on this season. It is rather a question of when.
During the first six contests Smith played in for the Texans this season, he was targeted four times and caught one pass for 28 yards, which came against the New York Giants in Week Three.
In Week 16 against the Philadelphia Eagles, in a playoff environment on the road, the Texans called upon the D-II talent from Limestone College for a critical third down opportunity. In the clutch, Smith came through and, for a moment, the second seed of the AFC playoff bracket was in the Texans’ possession.
As Smith continued to develop during the course of the season, he recognized all the little things needed to succeed on the field for the Texans, which requires a lot of repetition.
“Coming from a D-II school, there are things that you don’t see on that level or don’t learn on that level that takes a lot of attention on this level to have to pay attention and go do it over and over, voiced Smith, according to houstontexans.com. “That’s what helps me – repetition.”
Smith’s work ethic was essential for him to stay on the Texans’ roster and especially during the course of the regular season as the club sustained some injuries within their receiving core.
Texans speedy wide receiver Will Fuller went down for the season in Week Eight against the Indianapolis Colts due to a tore ACL. In Week 16, Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas sustained an Achilles’ injury which sidelined him for the rest of the season, a player the Texans acquired to fill the void of Fuller.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson needed a huge play late in the showdown against the Eagles and Smith stepped up. Clearly, Smith has the confidence, but his quarterback always believed in his undrafted teammate.
“For me, my confidence, if you’re out there on the field with me, I have all the confidence in the world,” said Watson. “It’s not one guy in that locker room that’s on the field with me that shouldn’t think or lack any confidence that the ball is not going to go to him (Smith). For me, I’m going to find the open guy.
“For him, being able to step up in that moment, I think it gives him a lot of confidence to be able to know that he can come in and perform at this level,” he continued. “This is what he’s been working for for his whole life. All the time and hard work he’s been putting in since training camp, throughout the season, is finally getting to show and his opportunity’s going to come.”
Smith was supremely solid at the NFL Regional Combine Invitational in 2018. The calculated receiver locks onto the ball in flight and has the 4.3 elite speed to go get it. With good size, great hands and feet, Smith mirrors a prototype receiver for the NFL. Still, coming from a D-II program, there is a learning curve.
“Oh yeah. In my opinion, level of competition is part of the evaluation,” stated Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. “So, a guy that’s played in the SEC for three or four years, relative to a guy who – with all due respect, and I love Limestone – but a guy that played at Limestone, it’s just different. It’s going to be a different level of competition relative to getting ready to play professional football.
“Since the day Vyncint walked in here, he’s a very hardworking guy,” sounded O’Brien. “I don’t think – knock on wood – he’s ever missed a practice, takes notes in the meetings, pays attention, great guy. Really a focused individual, and he’s improved because of that. But, that’s part of the evaluation process is who they’re playing against.”
The Texans are locked into the playoff, but are hoping for the number two seed in the NFL. They need some help from the New York Jets and a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Will Smith’s brief success equal long term productivity for the Texans? All expectations point – absolutely.
Vyncint Smith/Google Smith
“Vyncint has been watching and improving each and every week,” said Watson. “(He) Hasn’t said a word, hasn’t had one complaint. Just kind of been working and has been patient. Whenever his opportunity came on Sunday, he took advantage of it and he made a big play for us.
“He’s a guy that we’ve all been watching and knew that whenever his opportunity came that we could trust in him and he knew what to do.”
-The Minnesota Vikings just need to win and they are in. Against the Chicago Bears, Vikings Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen must have a huge output. The Bears will look to be physical against Thielen as they slowed him down in Week 11. Thielen needs to get off early in order to ultimately duel against the NFC North champs.
“Obviously, he (Thielen) is getting some double coverages but that is mostly on third downs,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. “But they are obviously paying a lot of attention to him so I think there are a couple things we are going to try to do.”