When it comes to being on thin ice, tackle D’Ante Smith knows the feeling. Since he was drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, he has yet to log significant playing time. He has been on the 53-man roster, though he has spent most of his time in Cincinnati inactive on gamedays.
Smith has appeared in three regular-season games for the Bengals. Some of this is injury related, while the rest is his place on the depth chart.
When the team scrambled to put together an offensive line for the playoffs, it often felt like Smith was an afterthought.
It does not appear as if the coaches don’t like Smith as a player. They could have released Smith and brought him back on the practice squad in 2021. However, the team released then brought back Isaiah Prince on the practice squad while Smith was on the active roster but not playing.
Smith showed a lot of potential coming out of ECU.
The former ECU Pirates left tackle had a promising 2021 preseason. Now he will need a great 2023 training camp and preseason if he is to stick with the team another season.
The team signed Orlando Brown Jr. and Cody Ford in free agency. While Ford has played primarily guard in the NFL, the Bengals brought him in to compete for the right tackle spot.
Ideally, given his talent and the draft capital spent on Smith, he would be one of the first options to compete for the right tackle position or possibly even as a backup guard. All of that seems to have gone to Jackson Carman.
No matter what the reason, it appears that, once again, Smith will head into training camp and preseason games on thin ice. Hopefully, he will show and prove he has a place on this roster and eventually develop into a starting-caliber offensive lineman for the Bengals or another NFL team.