DAVIE, Fla. -- It’s a new beginning for Miami Dolphins guard Shelley Smith. After stints as a backup with the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams, Smith comes to Miami with expectations of being a full-time starter for the first time in his career.
Smith, who has eight career starts in three seasons, believes he is ready for a bigger role in Miami. The Dolphins' offensive line was torn apart last season due to a high-profile bullying scandal off the field and inconsistent play on the field.
"I’m very excited to get the opportunity," Smith said Tuesday. “Like always, you got to earn it. So I’m going to work my butt off to try to earn this starting spot on the offensive line.”
Smith also is experiencing a new beginning in his personal life. He was recently married in Arizona to his college sweetheart, Lindsey, just days after signing a two-year contract with the Dolphins. This was Smith's first meeting with the Miami media because he had to return to Arizona for his wedding.
According to Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, Smith fits in well with the zone-blocking scheme Miami wants to run under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. The Dolphins are looking for more athletic linemen who can move well in space.
“We’re excited to add Shelley Smith to the Miami Dolphins,” Hickey said. “Obviously we had some knowledge of Shelley through John Benton, our offensive line coach, who worked with Shelley. He had nothing but good things to say, not only the player but the person. That’s very important to us.”
Smith joins Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert as part of Miami’s offseason reclamation project on the offensive line. The Dolphins could have as many as four new starters. Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey is the only guaranteed holdover in the group.
The Dolphins were 26th in rushing and allowed a franchise-record 58 quarterback sacks in 2013.
“I think it will be a lot more improved,” Smith said of Miami's offensive line. “I think that they brought in some really good players, obviously. Albert’s a really good player and Pouncey’s a really good player. I think things are heading in the right direction with our O-line coach and a new coaching staff. There’s a lot of potential for our O-line to be really good.”