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Kevin Greene at Bengals camp (1 Viewer)


GEORGETOWN, Ky. - Kevin Greene, looking more like an oversized version of rock guitarist Joe Walsh than a former football star, motioned to Justin Smith when the Bengals defensive field came off the practice field Thursday.Greene, third all time in sacks with 160, knelt on the sideline and drew a diagram on a piece of paper with a pen. Smith nodded and gestured with his right hand to mirror the suggested movement."Easy play," Greene said.Greene, who played for Bengals coach Marvin Lewis when Lewis was Steelers linebackers coach in the early 1990s, had traveled to Bengals training camp to work primarily with rookie outside linebacker David Pollack.But Pollack, whose contract holdout reached eight days Thursday, wasn't there.No matter. Greene found another willing student - if not somewhat of a kindred spirit - in the fifth-year defensive end."There are one or two things I never heard anywhere - high school, college or pro - like alignments, how to fool with your alignments," Smith said after practice.Though he had eight sacks in 2004, Smith is looking for a breakout season. He has enjoyed the benefit of Greene's tutelage, and a switch from right end - where he battled dominating left offensive tackles each week - could help boost his sack production. (Smith said he would have had 10 sacks if he had been given credit for ones in games against Cleveland and Baltimore in 2004.)Still, he has 28 career sacks. And in making 59 consecutive starts, Smith has proven to be solid against the run. In fact, the move to the left side - where he will line up next to newly acquired left tackle Bryan Robinson, should lift the run defense that tied for 26th in the NFL last season. It was especially weak against AFC North opponents."The main thing I'm focused on is stopping the run and getting them in pass situations," Smith said. "It doesn't matter how many sacks anybody has unless we stop the run. If we stop the run, the sacks will take care of themselves."Smith, a high-energy player similar to Greene, took to the instruction."Justin keeps learning and getting to talk to people," Lewis said. "I don't think he quite had that mentor when he got here."Greene emphasized other points to Smith, as well, that should help him improve on the field. One involves off-field work."That's one thing I need to get better at is dissecting the finer points on film," Smith said of studying his opponents.Greene said there is no way Smith shouldn't collect double-digit sacks. The Bengals haven't had a player do that since Alfred Williams in 1992. The linebacker had 10 that year.Smith's career high remains the 8.5 he gathered as a rookie in 2001. His first season was impressive, given he held out until the day before the regular-season opener and played in 15 games with just 11 starts.The chance to play on the left side, against the offensive tackle that is often the team's second best, not best, should help Smith realize even more of his statistical goals."I think, just overall, we're excited about the defense," Smith said. "When we get everybody on the same page and get everybody in (projected starting strong-side linebacker David Pollack remained a holdout Thursday), we'll hopefully accomplish a lot this year."I don't like to get pigeon-holed. I think it's good to move people around and throw people off."


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