RENTON, Wash. -- Malcolm Smith has picked up right where he left off. The Seattle Seahawks linebacker, who had offseason ankle surgery, made a spectacular one-handed interception in practice Tuesday that he ran back 60 yards for a touchdown.
And that’s when the chant from his teammates began “MVP! MVP!”
The play was reminiscent of the 69-yard pick-six he had in the Super Bowl that made him a rare defensive MVP of the game in Seattle's 43-8 victory over Denver.
So there was a happy deja vu moment for everyone in Smith’s return to the field
“I guess man,” said Smith in his usual quite way. “I’m just trying to do my job and I was fortunate to get an opportunity there and make ‘em pay. Hopefully, I’ll just keep it rolling. One practice isn’t going to do it all, but I’ll try to stack some good days together.”
Even without the dramatic return, Smith is just glad to be practicing again.
“I’ve been itching,” Smith said. “We did some great stuff in the Super Bowl and then it was a lull for me. I had lot of down time and a lot of watching, dealing with my own emotions.
“So it was good to get out here today and start moving around a little bit. [The ankle injury] kind of caught me off guard in the offseason and they suggested I get it fixed. It took me a little longer than I expected. It’s been really hard, because you want to carry the momentum.”
It looks like Smith carried on the Super Bowl momentum just fine. Actually, the momentum started with his interception in the end zone, off Richard Sherman’s tip, that sealed the victory over San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.
In just two weeks, the soft-spoken Smith went from a little-known linebacker to a household name as a 225-pound speedster who can wreak havoc.
Did his life change after the Super Bowl?
“Not much,” Smith said. “My life hasn’t changed. People care about you a little more than they used to, but other than that, it’s all the same.”
No one was happier to see Smith back on the field than Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
“He’s worked really hard in his rehab, and I know he’s been really anxious to get back and get going,” Quinn said of Smith. “It was awesome to have him back today. For him to make a nice play like that in the first practice, well, that’s the Malcolm we know.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has known Smith longer than anyone in the organization.
“Malcolm’s been with us since he was in the fourth grade, I think,” Carroll said.
“That’s little bit of a stretch,’’ Smith said smiling, “but it has been a long time.”
Smith started hanging out at USC as a 13-year-old kid when his brother, Steve, went to USC to play for Carroll in 2003. Smith followed his big brother to USC in 2007.
“Malcolm has great versatility and we totally trust him,” Carroll said. “He’s a real fixture in our defense. We love his flexibility and he’s such a great playmaker.’’
Which showed up again on his first day back.
“Hopefully, the coaches can count on me,” Smith said. “I feel pretty good. If we had a game today, I feel like I could play. I’ll keep building from here and try to get the most out of my ankle.”
Smith said he didn’t hear his teammates chanting MVP after his play of the day, which, in typical Smith fashion, he politely downplayed.
“I haven’t seen [the play] yet, but it’s never as good as it feels," he said. “But I care about being a good teammate and we all care about each other.”