In this Aug. 17 file photo, Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith (50) walks off the field after an NFL preseason game against the Buffalo Bills in Cleveland. Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said his team is “hurting” for defensive end Chris Smith after his girlfriend was killed in an accident. Petara Cordero, who recently had a daughter with Smith, was struck by a car as she stood on the roadside Wednesday. Smith’s car had blown a tire and the 26-year-old Cordero exited the vehicle when she was stuck by an oncoming car driven by a woman who admitted to police she had been drinking. — AP Photo/David Richard, File

In this Aug. 17 file photo, Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Smith (50) walks off the field after an NFL preseason game against the Buffalo Bills in Cleveland. Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said his team is “hurting” for defensive end Chris Smith after his girlfriend was killed in an accident. Petara Cordero, who recently had a daughter with Smith, was struck by a car as she stood on the roadside Wednesday. Smith’s car had blown a tire and the 26-year-old Cordero exited the vehicle when she was stuck by an oncoming car driven by a woman who admitted to police she had been drinking. — AP Photo/David Richard, File

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The Browns are leaning on their strong bond to support popular defensive end Chris Smith, whose girlfriend was killed in an accident.

"Chris is one of those guys — his smile is infectious, his personality is infectious," coach Freddie Kitchens said Thursday. "He's just overall well-liked. Of course, everybody in that locker room's hurting for him."

Petara Cordero, who gave birth to the couple's daughter last month, was struck by a car as she stood on a highway roadside Wednesday.

Smith told police a tire on his Lamborghini blew out and caused his car to spin and crash. The 26-year-old Cordero exited the vehicle when she was stuck by an oncoming car driven by a woman who admitted to police she had been drinking.

No charges have been filed, and toxicology reports are pending.

The police said Smith was not impaired or injured.

As the Browns prepare to play the New York Jets on Monday night, Kitchens said everyone in the organization's thoughts are with Smith, who is in his second year with the team.

"We try to build a culture around here where we hold each other accountable," said Kitchens, hired in January after serving as the club's offensive coordinator for eight games last season. "When you do that you have to start caring about people. This goes beyond football. This was a 26-year-old young lady at the highlight of her life. Chris is a good dude. She was a good girl. We just want to support him in any way we can."

Kitchens said the tragedy has weighed heavily on him.

"Chris is on my mind right now. His family's on my mind. Her family's on my mind," Kitchens said. "The four-week-old baby is on my mind. It's a difficult time, but we're going to get through it, there's never going to be an excuse. We're going to get through it, I promise you that, but we're going to get through it together. Chris is included in that, his family's included in that."

Kitchens visited Smith at his home on Wednesday. The 27-year-old, who also played in Cincinnati and Jacksonville, is in Cleveland's defensive rotation, but Kitchens doesn't know when he'll be back on the field.

"I have not even given one thought about that and I don't want Chris to even think about that," Kitchens said. "I told him yesterday, this is beyond this. We can make it whatever we want to."

Kitchens has made team chemistry a priority, and he feels the friendships that have been built will allow the Browns to support Smith and move forward.

"The way we try to approach things is literally, we want to become close," he said. "I tell these guys all the time — this football season is about the journey. You want to be around guys that want to be on the journey with you. To do that, you have to care about each other. If you want to get the most out of your team, at some point you have to start caring about each other."

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