GREEN BAY — Green Bay Packers training camp officially opens in about a month, and Evan Dietrich-Smith is ready to be seen for what he can do, as opposed to what he had done to him.
Dietrich-Smith is barely known outside of Green Bay, but found himself being referenced from coat-to-coast after being on the receiving end of Ndamukong Suh’s stomp in a nationally-televised game last Thanksgiving. The play was shown again and again throughout the season, as Suh and the Detroit Lions tried to shake a reputation for dirty play. Dietrich-Smith wouldn’t mind shaking his association with the play as well.
“I see a lot of that stuff. They’re always bringing that back up – like is he a dirty player, or whatever. I don’t really care. I don’t want to be involved with it. I just wanna be recognized by everybody else as – he plays offensive line for the Packers and that’s what he does. Not – he’s that one guy that got stomped on,” Dietrich-Smith said.
In reality, Dietrich-Smith has gradually been making a name for himself with the Packers’ coaches. Originally an undrafted player signed in 2009, he didn’t play inn a single game in 2010 before seeing action in every game, with his first three career starts last season.
“I’m feeling good. I feel as though I have proven myself to the staff, that they can trust me as a player and to my teammates that if I go out there, we’re all going to be on the same page and we’re all going to do our job,” Dietrich-Smith said.
Dietrich-Smith clawed his way onto the Packers roster a few years ago, left Green Bay, and then came back to Green Bay happy for a job. Now, he thinks he can do the job at any of the inside offensive line positions.
“I don’t really care. For me, I just want to play football. The coaches are developing me how they see fit. Right now, it’s a lot of center. I look at myself as ‘hey, I’m a swing guy’ and until I can lock a spot down, that’s what I will see myself as,” Dietrich-Smith said.
Long-time Packers center Scott Wells departed as a free agent this winter, and Dietrich-Smith was mentioned as a possible replacement moving forward. Veteran Jeff Saturday was signed to start at the position this year, but his inclusion in the discussion is proof to Dietrich-Smith that he is now more than just the guy under Suh’s shoe.
Rather than head back to his native California or take a vacation to an exotic locale, Dietrich-Smith is staying in Green Bay for the summer in order to work out at the team’s facility.