ATLANTA Tony Gonzalez has been in Willie Smith's shoes, and he's glad those days are over.
No more watching game film to figure out how to slow down the NFL's active sack leader. No more John Abraham-induced nightmares off the edge. After all, Abraham, one of the league's premier sack specialists, is now Gonzalez's teammate on the undefeated Falcons.
"I remember playing against him when I was younger. I couldn't block him," Gonzalez said following Atlanta's 23-20 last-minute win over the Oakland Raiders.
Smith, the Raiders' second-year offensive tackle out of East Carolina, knows the feeling.
In just the sixth start of his young career, Smith, filling in for Oakland starter Khalif Barnes, often found himself lining up across from the Falcons' No. 55 a numerical value representative of yardage lost in the Georgia Dome. The result: three Abraham sacks, including a third-quarter quarterback takedown that caused a fumble, led to a game-tying field goal and shifted the contest's...