The groin injury had nagged Tyreke Smith since high school.

The sophomore defensive end had been able to play through it, but as training camp approached, it was becoming an issue he couldn’t ignore.

“I have a high pain tolerance, so I thought I was being a little baby,” Smith said Wednesday. “I kept trying to play through it, but I finally told the doctor I needed to do something about it.”

 

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Thirteen weeks ago, Smith had surgery. He didn’t play in the season opener after being listed as a game-day decision, but he made a splash last week against Cincinnati. Early in the second quarter, he used his quickness on an inside move for his first career sack. It likely will be the first of many.

Of all of Ohio State’s young pass-rushers, Smith might have the most potential because of his raw talent. He said he has been working diligently with defensive line coach Larry Johnson to hone his technique.

“I’ve never really compared myself to anybody,” the Cleveland native said. “I want to be the best D-end that’s come out of here, and that's my personal goal. I know I'm with the best coach, and I've got my teammates around me who are going to get me better.”

With Chase Young almost certainly bound for the NFL and Jonathon Cooper a senior, Smith figures to be a starter next year. But because Johnson uses a deep rotation, Smith believes he can be an impact player this year.

It helps that for the first time in his Ohio State career, he’s fully healthy.

Homecoming for Werner

Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner is from Indianapolis and spent many autumn Saturdays in Bloomington. So this week’s game against Indiana will be special to him.

“I grew up going to these games as a kid,” Werner said. “We had season tickets. So it’ll mean something to me.”

 

 

 

Werner was a freshman two years ago when the Buckeyes opened the season in Bloomington. At the time he was earning his stripes on special teams. Now he’s a starter at strongside linebacker who, like the rest of the defense, has gotten off to a strong start.

Though Werner grew up a Hoosiers fan, he didn’t seriously consider signing with Indiana. After Werner had an injury, Indiana, then coached by current Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, was slow to offer him a scholarship.

“I wasn't really happy about that,” Werner said.

By the time Indiana did show interest, Werner already had pared his list, and the Hoosiers weren’t on it.

 

Cooper returning?

Ohio State’s injury report won’t be released until Friday, but Cooper walked off the practice field Wednesday in full gear. He has missed the first two games with what’s believed to be an ankle injury.

 

Road advisory

Fans driving to Saturday’s game should take into account that the southeast section of I-465 that encircles Indianapolis is closed for construction. Instead of taking I-70 to I-465 to State Road 37, an alternate route would be to take I-70 close to near downtown Indianapolis, then take I-65 South to I-465 West to 37.

State Road 37 is usually congested on game days, so factor in extra time because of the Indianapolis highway issues.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch