Here’s what Lions coach Jim Schwartz had to say about running back Kevin Smith after he put up over 200 yards from scrimmage and two scores on the Panthers:
“There’s a lot of great stories in the NFL, and I’m sure there’s a lot of storylines today,” Schwartz said via the Detroit News. “But I think the NFL would be hard-pressed to find a better story than Kevin Smith.”
Mark Herzlich starting (and playing well overall) last night for the Giants was pretty cool. But we can’t really argue with Schwartz here.
Smith was the most likable member of the 0-16 Lions. He gave great effort every week and never seemed to give in to the misery. Smith has struggled even more in the years since.
He tore his ACL in 2009 and never seemed fully recovered in 2010. Smith couldn’t find an interested team this offseason. The Lions signed every scrap heap back possible before turning to Smith: Keiland Williams, Mike Bell, Eldra Buckley, and Jerome Harrison have all been on the roster. They tried to trade for Ronnie Brown.
When the Lions finally called Smith three weeks ago, he made sure he was ready.
“It’s not really tough, if that’s your will,” Smith said. “I’ve always believed in myself and my ability. I’ve had some tough breaks injury-wise. But I believe in myself. When I was getting up and going to train, and I’d kiss my son and walk out the door, there really was no motivation.”
Smith was so overcome by emotions that he had to take a moment to gather himself on the bench Sunday. It was a powerful moment, but the Lions aren’t into charity cases. Smith’s re-emergence could help solve the team’s long-struggling running game.
It makes you wonder why the team didn’t call Smith earlier.