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Andre Smith: “I Want To Be There On Time”

It’s widely believed in NFL circles that Cincinnati Bengals rookie offensive tackle Andre Smith is probably going to be a contract holdout when training camp begins.

However, Smith, who did find his way to the NFL annual Rookie Symposium in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., unlike his recent mix-up between Bloomington, Ind., and Bloomington, Ill., expressed a strong desire to take care of his off-the-field business.

The former University of Alabama consensus All-American blocker told Steve Wyche of today that he fully intends to report promptly for camp in Georgetown, Ky.

“That’s No. 1,” said Smith, who’s represented by Alvin Keels. “I want to be there on time because I want to give myself the opportunity to come in and play in the first game.”

Of course, that stance could be complicated by Smith’s draft position as the sixth overall pick of the NFL Draft.

Picked one spot behind New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, Smith might try to push for big money not normally associated with his work in the trenches.

Sanchez’s contract carries a maximum value of $60 million, including $28 million in guaranteed money.

However, it’s likely that the Bengals will base their contract proposals to Smith on the money received by last year’s sixth overall pick: New York Jets outside linebacker Vernon Gholston.

Gholston received a five-year, $40 million contract that included $21 million in guaranteed money.

And the Bengals will be crossing their fingers that Smith gets off to a better start to his career than Gholston.

It’s worth noting that the Bengals have had several contract holdouts over the years.

As Wyche points out, Smith’s haggling power may have been reduced by the fact that he’s not playing left tackle.

At least Smith’s attitude seems to be positive about shifting to the right side.

“It’s been a great transition,” Smith said. “I have a lot of great people around me. It hasn’t been that hard. . . . I’m going to bust my butt. I’m going to work extremely hard, not talk back and just compete.”

Smith has drawn heavy criticism in the past for poor decisions.

That includes bolting out of the NFL Scouting Combine without informing league and combine officals, jiggling his way through a shirtless 40-yard dash at his campus Pro Day workout and his frequent agent switches.

A major portion of the symposium platform is devoted toward helping the rookies to make sound choices about life and football.

“You just learn about being yourself first and making good decisions,” Smith said. “It’s been good.”