It’s about time to call this a lost season for second-round pick Alphonso Smith. The Broncos gave up a 2010 first-round pick to get him, then he couldn’t clearly beat out Jack Williams for the nickel cornerback spot in preseason. In November he was pushed behind Ty Law, a 35-year-old midseason acquisition. Maybe that could be explained away as the Broncos trusting a borderline future hall-of-famer over a rookie, but the latest move is a clear indication of Smith’s struggles. Undrafted rookie Tony Carter was signed off the practice squad Saturday and was ahead of Smith for the nickel cornerback spot on Sunday. That’s obviously not a good sign for the 37th pick of the draft.
Even worse is Smith has had to come in each of the last two weeks because of injuries, and gave up a big catch. Indianapolis’ Austin Collie beat him on a key third and 10 two weeks ago. On Sunday, Smith appeared to be in coverage on Chaz Schilens’ game-winning touchdown reception.
“He’s a rookie and he’s developing,” defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. “We’ve got several other rookies that are trying to find their niche. That’s common for a rookie. There’s a unique few that play early and play a lot. In their cases they have more to learn before they get on the field consistently.”
When asked about Smith, Nolan said all young players need experience.
“There’s some lessons you have to learn on the field by yourself,” Nolan said.
Nolan was then asked if Smith is having issues with the mental side of playing in the NFL, and insinuated Smith just hasn’t made enough plays to earn a bigger role.
“Alphonso is a bright guy, it’s just more that you have to make plays to get on the field in this league,” Nolan said. “The playmakers get on and when you’re on, whether it’s to shut the guy down your on or get the ball in your hands, but in some form or fashion you have to do the job you’re assigned to. It’s really that kind of stuff more than anything.”