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News » 80's look suits Smith

80's look suits Smith

80's look suits Smith
The first thing fans will notice about Alex Smith will be his number. It will stick out like one of the Patriots' flashy Super Bowl rings.

Smith is certainly aware No. 80 has special significance in New England. And, while he has nothing but the highest respect for the recently retired Troy Brown, the newly acquired tight end did not request Brown's familiar number.

Smith wore 81 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the past four seasons. This was simply a case of the team running out of tight end-appropriate numbers (tight ends are required to wear numbers in the 80s). So he was issued No. 80.

``By no means am I trying to fill Troy Brown's shoes,'' Smith said yesterday at Gillette Stadium. ``He was a great player for this organization. Unfortunately, I have to follow in the same number, but Troy left his mark on this team, and I'm going to come in and try and make my own mark. But by no means am I trying to fill Troy Brown's shoes or replace Troy Brown. I just want to continue playing, and hopefully represent the number well.''

Smith was acquired from Tampa Bay on April 30 in exchange for a fifth round draft choice in 2010. He joins a crowded group of tight ends, with Benjamin Watson, Chris Baker, David Thomas, Tyson DeVree and Brad Listorti. He's looking forward to what promises to be one of the most heated competitions in camp.

``I'm just going to go out here and work hard. Competition is always good,'' Smith said. ``We're just going to push each other, and hopefully, it all works out in the end.''

While Smith knows several Patriots , namely his former Buccaneers teammate Joey Galloway, as well as Tank Williams, whom he played with at Stanford, he's also familiar with at least one prominent former Patriot.

Smith is friends with Daniel Graham, who played tight end here from 2002-06. Smith's father, Edwin, and Graham's father, Tom, played together on the Denver Broncos defense from 1973-76.

``Daniel is a good friend of mine. He was very excited. I think he may have been more excited that I was (traded) here than myself,'' Smith said. ``He's just been offering lots of words of encouragement, just trying to make sure I get settled in as easily as possible. He said it was a great organization and he had nothing but great things to say about it. Just to hear that makes you feel that much more comfortable.'' Smith didn't want to get involved in any comparisons with Graham. The 6-foot 4, 258-pound Smith, also a blocking tight end, caught 21 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns last season. He became expendable when Tampa Bay traded for tight end Kellen Winslow, and was a bit surprised to be dealt to the Patriots , given the Bucs have employed more than one tight end.

``I was still open to the fact of staying there and playing,'' he said. ``We had a lot of (tight ends) over there as well, but I just think it was time for a change. I think we both saw that, so now I'm definitely excited about this new change.''

- kguregian@bostonherald.com

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 15, 2009

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