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Donovan Smith has a strong first showing in a Chiefs uniform

Kansas City’s new left tackle impressed during his limited time in Sunday’s preseason opener.

NFL: JUN 08 Kansas City Chiefs OTA Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs’ starting offensive line only played nine snaps during Sunday’s preseason-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints. They ran six plays with quarterback Patrick Mahomes at the helm, then got an additional three-and-out drive with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

There’s only so much to take away from such a short time. But the newest member of the starting five made as good of a first impression as one could expect. On the team’s opening drive, left tackle Donovan Smith had two notable reps.

Here we see a zone running play that is called to the right. That requires Smith to work on — and cut off — defenders pursuing the play from the back side. He does that perfectly here, reaching the B-gap defender lined up inside of him and taking control. Once he latches on with power, he activates a leg drive to push the defensive tackle into the ground.

This outside-zone run is a foundational play in the Chiefs’ offense — and here, its success starts with both offensive tackles.

On the front side, the tackle needs to set the edge by base-blocking the end to his outside. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor starts this rep with good pop, but doesn’t stay on the end enough for the ball carrier to clear.

Smith’s work on the back side is exactly what you want to see. If the rest of the play is blocked more cleanly, he would be opening up an enormous cut-back lane for the running back to shoot through into open space.

On the third down of the opening drive, Smith gets a chance to show off his ability in pass protection. In this particular matchup, he is not passive. Instead of waiting for the engagement, he steps out toward the defensive end. Once he gets a strong grip on the pass-rusher, he shows impressive upper-body strength by throwing the defender to the turf.

In Smith’s career, he is best when jumping out on the rusher — and quickly getting his hands on the defender. He has the quick feet he needs to get out of his stance fast, preventing the rusher from getting any momentum.

I wasn’t the only analyst impressed with Smith’s showing. Brandon Thorn — one of the football world’s best offensive-line analysts — shows the two plays from an end-zone angle.

These clips give an even better understanding of how well Smith moves — especially compared to the Chiefs’ former starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. He simply covers ground more quickly — whether that’s because of how fast he gets out on the edge rusher or how fluid his movement is on the running play.

It was a strong first showing for Smith, whose signing polarized Kansas City fans back in May. The longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ left tackle dealt with injuries last season — but with any luck, his first live action in a Chiefs’ uniform was just a small sample of what he can do when he is healthy.

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