Smith still has a chance to get back on the first team. (Getty)

Since the Rams selected offensive tackle Jason Smith with the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, he has struggled to play under the expectations that come with such a high draft selection.

He’s the team’s right tackle, but he had his base salary slashed from $10 million to $4 million last April. And even though St. Louis general manager Les Snead maintained some optimism about Smith’s future in the offseason, it’s unclear if Smith will even be a starter this season.

As Rapid Reporter Larry Hartstein wrote, Smith has been demoted to second-string right tackle behind offseason free agent acquisition Barry Richardson.

“There's been flashes where I've done what he's asked me to do, or shown me,” Smith said, referring to offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. “And there's flashes where I just look like somebody who's not even capable of playing football. So I'm honest with myself. And at the end of the day I want to prove my own self and prove my own work."

Originally, the team signed Richardson simply to add depth to the Rams offensive line. The fact he’s moved into Smith’s starting role has surprised Richardson (and probably would have shocked Smith three years ago if you had told him what would happen). But it sounds like the Rams aren’t given up on Smith quite yet.

"I think he's improving," Boudreau said, via the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "I think his hands are getting better. He has a tendency to drop his hands. And when he drops his hands he drops his head. And it's hard to block a guy when you don't see him."

The good news: Smith still has some time to win back his job. The bad news: three years into a career that should have been a can’t-miss campaign, Smith still isn’t doing much hitting.

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