D'Joun Smith Looking To Change Rookie Year Misfortune

Intro: Going into his second NFL season, D’Joun Smith and the Colts are hoping to write a different chapter in a defensive role that is vital nowadays.

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INDIANAPOLIS – He could be the 12th starter for the Colts defense in 2016.

A capable third cornerback is vital for a defense to survive in the NFL this decade.

Is that D'Joun Smith's role in his second NFL season?

The Colts remain optimistic on Smith after some "buzzard luck" shelved him for all but four games of his rookie campaign.

Smith, the team's third-round pick form last season, is going to have more than a chance to try and secure playing time behind Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson.

Nickelback Darius Butler, 30, has occupied the Colts' third corner spot since joining the team in October of 2012.

Having such a consistent presence is a must in the pass happy NFL.

NFL teams passed the ball 5,000 times more than they ran it last season.

A nickel corner isn't hearing his name announced in a starting 11, but he better expect to be on the field when it really matters.

This is where Smith could factor in this fall after a trying first run in the NFL.

"Smith got off to a rough start and it never got any better from the offseason," Chuck Pagano said last month at the League Meetings. "Whether it was getting acclimated to the program, rules as far as illegal contact.

"A lot of rookie corners, it's a tough transition for them. They get to contact all the way down the field in college and they do it for a lot of years in college, a lot of reps. He dealt with a lot of things (last year)."

Once the 2015 season rolled around for Smith his stay on the active roster didn't last long.

A knee injury forced him onto "injured reserve designated to return" after Week One.

Smith was activated in mid-November, but would play just 20 defensive snaps the rest of the year. He was finally placed on injured reserve after Week 15.

Looking ahead to 2016, the Colts won't need Smith in the starting 11, but that doesn't mean his playing time will be minimal.

Coach and player are ready for this second chapter.

"We put that one behind us. I think he's put it behind him," Pagano says of Smith's first season.

"We're all looking forward to a productive and successful offseason and hopefully a healthy Training Camp. The guy has talent. We saw what we saw on tape. I personally came down and spent the day at (Florida Atlantic), worked him out and spent time with him and he ran fast. He has playmaking ability. Hopefully, in Year Two, we see all those things we saw coming out of college."

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