The New Orleans Saints are going to switch veteran defensive end Will Smith to outside linebacker on Tuesday when the team opens up OTA’s.
The Saints are converting to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Smith will be expected to rush the passer like always from his new position.
“Look, Will's a really good football player,” general manager Mickey Loomis said, according to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “We'll find a place for Will to be playing, but I think ideally it would be outside linebacker. I think that's where we see him and that's where he'll start out in camp. And look, I expect the same things that we've gotten out of him that we've gotten in the past which is really a high level of play.”
Smith took a big pay cut to remain with the Saints this offseason and that could be because he realized the market would be soft for a veteran on the back side of his career. There will be a lot of talk about him moving from a three-point stance to being a stand-up player but the reality is an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme is most frequently rushing the passer. So, the change might not be that drastic for Smith.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune