Willie Smith doesn’t exactly care where he is on the Carolina Panthers’ depth chart. He’s just happy he has a job.
The Panthers signed the offensive tackle Thursday afternoon after the team was desperate to find some decent help at a weak position.
“Everything is just so new, I’m out here just trying to learn the playbook and learn the calls,” Smith said after Thursday’s practice. “That’s the only thing I’m worried about right now. I’m not worried about positions. I want to come out here, work hard and put out some good film.”
Smith, a former East Carolina standout, hasn’t played in the NFL since 2014. He was with Washington last summer before being cut, and he signed a one-year deal with Carolina after Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated the team wasn’t getting enough from some of its backups at tackle.
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Smith and former New York Giants offensive tackle Will Beatty worked out for the Panthers on Wednesday. Beatty, 31, has significantly more starting experience, but Smith is two years younger and wasn’t in position to ask for much money.
To create a roster space for Smith, the Panthers waived injured rookie fullback Devon Johnson, who has a back issue.
Smith signed as an undrafted free agent with Washington in 2011 after starting 27 consecutive games during his final two seasons at ECU. He started a career-high seven games with Oakland in 2012 and spent time with San Diego the following two seasons.
Smith, a swing tackle who can play on both sides of the line at 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, hurt his chances of making Washington’s 53-man roster last summer with a poor outing against Detroit in the second preseason game.