OXNARD, Calif. — Despite there being an extra layer of comfortability for second-year guard Tyler Smith going into training camp this season as opposed to his rookie year, there is still a key difference without Zack Martin on campus.
Despite his absence, Martin has remained in communication with the offensive line group to keep the spirits high going into 2023.
"He texted us, we're still close," Smith said about Martin. "We're still in full support of him. He was just like, 'Set the tone, I'll be there soon.'"
In his absence, it's been a group effort in the leadership department with Tyron Smith taking the reins on what is still a mostly youthful offensive line group. For Tyler Smith, it's also an opportunity to try his hand at leading the group.
"Tyron [Smith] has stepped up in the room being a big vet," Tyler Smith said. "The standard hasn't changed. We still gotta do things to that level that's accustomed to. Just stepping up and everybody's done that, I feel like. Just being a leader on and off the field is what we're trying to do."
The comfort levels remain strong for Smith with a year under his belt and a certain level of expectation for the curveballs being thrown his way early on in camp.
"I feel like this year – having a full NFL year under my belt – there are less surprises here and there. I know what the expectation is and I know what's expected of me in things that I might have to do throughout the year. I think there's a different level of comfort."
"It's more about building things than getting acquainted with things for the first time. It's easier to grind and easier to build for me."
Smith was thrust into the left tackle position to start his NFL career when Tyron Smith went down in the preseason with an injury, and the second-year Tulsa product sees it as an extra layer of preparedness in case a similar situation arises.
"I feel pretty prepared," he said. "Last year was a big year for that, me starting training camp playing guard and then starting the season playing tackle, and even in-season games and in-season practices switching between guard and tackle.
"That was the precursor to what I'm doing now. There's less growing pains, I feel like it's more tightening things up and refining stuff. Being too versatile is never a bad thing, it's a good thing for our guys."
Through the first two days at camp, Smith has been primarily used at left guard which is a position he is now more comfortable with going into his second season.
"That's my approach for right now," Smith said. "That's where they're playing me and that's what I gotta do."