SASKATOON, SK -- Geroy Simon's retirement has opened a door for Taj Smith to become a leader on a Riders roster that is suddenly laden with young talent.
“The guys respect me a lot, and I just try to be a role model to them and just try to help as much as I can, because I know how it was for me when I first got here,” said Smith when asked about his new role.
In what was only his second CFL season, Smith registered an impressive 78 receptions for 1,007 yards, hauling in seven touchdowns in the process.
With Simon and Weston Dressler out of the picture in Riderville, Smith has an opportunity to establish himself as an even bigger force on the offensive side of the ball in 2014.
In addition to an added work load, Smith hopes to take on a mentor role to a pair of new Rider receivers who have been turning heads so far at training camp.
Both Brett Swain and Chaz Schilens feel that they are slowly adapting to the new style of play.
“It’s the little subtleties in the timing in your routes, using that extra 10 yards," said Swain.
"Because you never want to come out or break too soon," he added.
This isn't the first time Smith and Swain have crossed paths, as the two spent some time together in Green Bay during the 2008 NFL season.
It's the familiarity that has allowed Smith to assist Swain's development even further. Smith admits that he likes what he's seen so far.
“Just seeing the way he practiced, and coming out here and seeing the way he practices it makes me want to practice even more and that much harder,” said Smith.
“I just try to tell him just take it all in because we’ve all been cut before and if you don’t want to go home you better work hard,” Smith continued.