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News » Receiving a primer

Receiving a primer

Receiving a primer
FOXBOROUGH - If former Patriots tight end Daniel Graham has ill will toward his old team, he didn't share it with new Patriots tight end Alex Smith.

When the Patriots picked up Smith in an April 30 trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, surrendering a fifth-round pick for the fifth-year tight end, Graham gave Smith a primer on the Patriots .

``Daniel is a good friend of mine. He was very excited,'' Smith said yesterday. ``I think he may have been more excited that I was here than myself. 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.''

Tampa Bay deemed Smith expendable after trading for tight end Kellen Winslow during the offseason and having a surfeit of tight ends. Now, the 26-year-old Smith finds himself in a crowded field of Patriots tight ends, competing with Benjamin Watson, Chris Baker, David Thomas, Tyson DeVree, and Brad Listorti for a roster spot.

``I was still open to the fact of staying there and playing,'' said Smith. ``We had a lot of guys 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.''

Smith's reception numbers have declined each year since 2005, when he led rookie tight ends in catches with 41. Last season, he had 21 receptions for 250 yards and three touchdowns.

Smith attributed the decline to injuries - he has dealt with ankle problems the last two seasons - and the Buccaneers' lack of continuity at quarterback.

The latter won't be a problem with Tom Brady.

``You can't underestimate having that chemistry with your quarterback, so I'm definitely excited to get out there and start working with him,'' said Smith.

Smith, who has been training in Foxborough, said he's eager to get on the field; the Patriots' passing camp starts Monday.

``It's kind of that going-to-a-new-school feeling, and you just want to get out there and . . . just show everybody what you can do,'' he said.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 258-pound Smith has a similar frame to Graham's, hails from Colorado, and is the son of an NFL player - Graham's father, Tom, and Smith's father, Edwin, played for the Denver Broncos in 1973 and part of 1974. But Smith dodged comparisons to his buddy.

The Stanford-educated Smith was also smart enough to pay homage to the man whose number (80) he inherited - Troy Brown.

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

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at cgasper @globe.com.

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

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