Every training camp has its distractions, and when your team was launched just over four months ago, Coach Smith was prepared for his group to experience a fair amount of adversity starting out the franchise's first season in existence. So on Day 1 of training camp, when a late—and somewhat rare for this year—snow storm caused delays to both flights and practices as players and coaches made their way to Baltimore, Smith knew time and focus would be essential.
So, it’s a good thing Smith is about discipline. Coaches spend a lot of time with the guys and have kept everyone on tight schedules with very little "free" time.
“Between practices, conditioning, meetings and meals, players see very little of the outside world during camp," Smith said. "Adversity builds on mental toughness, which is crucial throughout the ups and downs of the season. Right now, we're heads down, grind up."
It also helps that his leaders have bought in. Chase Cartwright and Shane Carden, two young quarterbacks new to the league have pleasantly surprised their coaches. Smith praised Cartwright and Carden for their hard work, their ability to pick up the offense, and most impressively showcasing their eagerness to learn—coming in early and staying late to study film.
As impressive as the offense might be, Coach noted that his defense is showing up in a big way.
“We want practices to be hard for the offense and our defense has given them a tough time. We need our offense to catch.”
April 7 is coming up quick and Smith is confident on where his team is mentally and physically but knows there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“We’re reminding these guys that it’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
And his goals heading into next week?
Keep educating and keep learning; taking care of the ball on offense; strengthening coverage on defense, and identifying a physical bunch that is “flat out football players.”