After his season ended prematurely due to a Week 14 knee injury, running back
Smith had already been playing through multiple shoulder injuries when he hurt his knee at Baltimore. He had surgery shortly thereafter and has been working through treatment and rehab ever since.
“I’ve been working out at the University of Miami just doing the basics trying to get my flexibility back,” he said. “I’m starting to squat a little bit, doing some leg presses, trying to get the muscle back in my left quad – I had surgery on my left knee. Everything feels good – everything’s going well right now.”
Last year, in the offseason following his rookie season, Smith was working out just two weeks after the season started. This year, he will not be able to work out as intensely as he did a year ago, but he has been diligent in working through treatment.
Smith has gone back and forth between Detroit and Miami since before the season ended, working at either the team facility or the University.
“I’ve got to keep that attitude,” he said. “The work starts now. There’s not much time. I got my rest in. Since I hurt my knee, I’ve been waking up every day going to rehab. It’s kind of been like I haven’t really got a chance to stop.
“I’m sacrificing what I have to (in order) to get back to being 100-percent for the season.”
Though the No. 1 question will be whether Smith will be ready for the start of the regular season, he isn’t putting any parameters on how long it will take him to get back. The primary reason, he says, is that he doesn’t want to set himself up for disappointment.
“I don’t want to put any stakes on it,” he said. “I just know that I’m going to be ready for next year. How soon? I don’t know. But everything’s going good so far, so I’m just going to continue to work and go day by day.”
Looking back on the 2009 season, the Lions offense as a whole struggled with injuries. It became tough to field all of Detroit’s offensive starters at one time.
“I was hurt most of the year, Calvin (Johnson) got nicked up, Matthew (Stafford) got nicked up, (Brandon) Pettigrew battled,” said Smith. “But I think when everybody’s healthy, we’ve got a chance at being a pretty good offense.
“The numbers may have not shown it, but I think with one year in the books we should all be able to get the offense rolling.”
From a personal standpoint, Smith is looking forward to getting back into the film room to self-critique using the games he was able to play in last year.
“I learned a lot this year with the new coordinator in (Scott) Linehan and I learned some good pass protection things and there’s always ways you can improve to run the ball,” he said.
“Eventually I’ll get back in there and I’ll watch some film and assess myself and see what I need to change. I’ll work on that for this offseason – get ready for the year.”