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Bucs’ Donovan Smith has a big contract, now he wants a bigger voice

The Bucs left tackle says his three-year, $41.25-million contract hasn’t sunk in yet
Published Mar. 6
Updated Mar. 6

TAMPA — Donovan Smith went to bed at 1 a.m. Tuesday. He woke up two hours later.

Unable to sleep, the clock was nonetheless moving much faster toward the 4 p.m. deadline for the Bucs to reach a deal with their left tackle or place the franchise tag on him.

“I’m just like, I can’t go to sleep,’’ he said. “I really can’t go to sleep.”

Smith is resting much easier after signing a three-year, $41.25-million contract Tuesday making him the NFL’s fourth highest-paid left tackle in terms of average salary.

The first person Smith said he called was his mother, Sharon Thomas. He did a group FaceTime with her, his two sisters and his brother.

“One of the hardest things is to see my mother cry,’’ Smith said. “Whether they’re happy tears or sad tears. She just pretty much broke down and said, ‘I prayed for this day and it’s a blessing,’ so she just started crying.’’

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Here are a few things that stood out at Smith’s news conference Wednesday.

Responding to the snarky tweet by Saints defensive end Cam Jordan.

Nobody was happier to see Smith re-sign with the Bucs than the Bucs. Or maybe Saints defensive end Cam Jordan.

After news broke of Smith’s extension, Jordan used the occasion to tweet at Alex Okafor, begging him to come back to the Saints as a free agent.

“food solidified for another 3 yrs now come on back bruhhda,’’ Jordan tweeted at Okafor.

Smith responded by posting a picture on Twitter of himself locking down Okafor in pass protection during a game last season.

Okafor had no success against Smith last season, although Jordan has been a thorn in the Bucs side rushing from left defensive end.

“As you know, their divisional opponents,’’ Smith said. “The thing about the league, everybody knows everybody. Just like anybody else, you’re guys having fun. So you just like to have fun and trash talk and everything. It is what it is and obviously it’s coming from a divisional opponent. We’ll see them twice a year.’’

Now entering his fifth pro season, he says he needs to be more vocal.

“Just in general, being a bigger voice,’’ Smith said. “People lead different ways. I’m more of a pull you to the side kind of guy, but I can be more outspoken in my leadership. Like you said, just continue to build who I am on the field. Consistency, going out there and play week in and week out and just help the team win. Like I said before, that’s the plan here. We want to turn this thing around and get it going. We can’t have (just) the Lightning balling out here in Tampa. We’re going to turn it around and have some fun doing it.

“I’m not a very rah rah type person like Kwon (Alexander). But I lead my own way. He leads a different way. You just kind of find your niche and don’t be afraid to step out and find something different. You may get a different response and it may trigger other guys. ‘If Donovan is talking, he barely talks at meetings so it must mean something.’ ’’

On being able to continue playing next to guard Ali Marpet:

“It means a lot,’’ Smith said. “As you all know, Ali is my guy. We came in together and everything and we went to the Lightning game last night together. You know to be able I got my friend that I’ve grown to be my brother over these years, to keep this thing rolling together, it’s huge.’’

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On hoping guys like Alexander re-sign with the Bucs:

“You can’t control it,’’ Smith said. “That’s my brother. We came in together. I wish nothing but the best for him. He’s a great player. But like you said, it’s a business and you never know.’’

On his streak of 64 consecutive starts:

“It takes a lot,’’ Smith said. “My hardest days are Mondays and Tuesdays normally after the game. You know, it just takes a lot. You’ve got to be physically prepared and mentally prepared and know it’s going to be at battle the whole game 60 to 90 plays, depending on how long you’re playing. It’s great. It’s fun. It’s a sport where you can sit there and beat up on grown men and have fun with your guys on the line and go out there and play the game you love.’’

Contract Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com. Follow @NFLStroud

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