MARVIN LEWIS (Head coach) and ANDRE SMITH (Offensive tackle, Alabama)
Initial comments:ML: Let's get right to it. I'd like to introduce Andre (Smith) to you. We're excited he got in this morning. He'll spend the day here with us. We brought him in to spend some time with you, to answer some questions first-hand, and to give you your first chance to take a look at him.
Q: You said yesterday that you are happy to be a Bengal:AS: Oh yeah, I'm loving it. It's a good opportunity to be in Cincinnati and working under the Browns, the organization, coach Lewis and coach Alexander. I'm just looking forward to it.
Q: How much did you talk to Lewis and Alexander after the combine, leading up to yesterday?AS: I talked to them a few times, both on the phone (and in person). I actually came up here on a visit to the Cincinnati Bengals. It's just been a great opportunity to actually see the guys I saw on TV every Sunday and Monday. Having the opportunity both to see them and talk to them in person — to get to know them as people and as coaches — has been a great experience.
Q: What did you learn from going through the draft evaluation process?AS: I made a few bad decisions a couple times — took some bad advice. But it's a stepping stone. I hate having to learn that lesson on such a large scale in front of the whole entire United States, but it's a great lesson. I've got to learn from it, and the biggest thing I'm going to do to change the perception that people have of me. That's what I'm really looking forward to do.
Q: What are you going to do the change that perception?AS: I'm just going to come in and show that the Cincinnati Bengals picked the right person to come in and play, compete and work hard and help change the franchise for the good.
Q: What are your main attributes as a football player?AS: I love to run block, and I also love to pass block. I consider the quarterback to be my mother. So by any means necessary, I'm going to defend him. That's what I consider to be (my main attributes).
Q: Have you heard yet from quarterback Carson Palmer since you've been picked?AS: I haven't. Carson and I were both on a flight out to San Diego when I had to go visit the San Diego Chargers. So that was ironic — I was sitting right across from him. We exchanged a few words, that was about it. I told him to put in a couple of good words for me. So it actually worked out. I'm happy to be here.
Q: How shocked were you on Thursday when Paul Alexander showed up?AS: It kind of caught me off guard. I was sitting back, having a good time. I had family members down there with me. I had just finished working out and coach Alexander said, 'I'm about to fly down.' So I said, 'OK, that's fine.' He had an opportunity to check in and see how my family was doing. It was actually a great conversation. It was good.
Q: Were you feeling confident that you would be selected in the top six picks?AS: As a college player, you never know where you're going to go. Some people had me going higher, and some people had me going lower. You never know. The biggest thing for me is I'm loving the situation that I'm in right now, standing here as a Cincinnati Bengal, and I'm really looking forward to getting back to football. That's what it's about for me. I love the game of football.
Q: How big a factor was playing for Alabama head coach Nick Saban in preparing you for the NFL?AS: I think I'm the most prepared out of all the other football players. I had an opportunity to work under coach Sabin, who has worked with (Patriots head coach Bill) Belichick.
Q: Have you talked to Bengals CB Simeon Castille (also from Alabama) yet?AS: Not lately. When I came up here he hadn't came back (to Cincinnati) yet. But I'm sure I'm going to see him around a lot.
Q: How close are you to former Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson (also a former Alabama player)? What has he said to you?AS: He told me to just to do the same things I've done in college. He told me to work hard and to have fun — play football like I've always done. He said it will be difficult at times, but remain confident. He gave me some technical things that I can work on. He is a mentor to me.
Q: What happened at the bowl game to cause the suspension?AS: It was just a family member who made a bad decision.
Q: Rick Smith is now your agent. What attracted you to him?AS: He is the most proven agent I spoke to in my interview process. The first time, I went with an agent that felt good. But this time, he (Rick Smith) was the best business man for me. Rick Smith is a great person. He really works hard for his guys, and he is really smart.
Q: How important is it for you to be at training camp on time?AS: It is very important. It is my No. 1 priority. I don't want to hold out. I want a contract done.
Q: Did Paul Alexander call you before he flew down to visit you last week?AS: He called as he was getting on the plane.
Q: Did you know he was going to weigh you?AS: No I didn't.