Red­skins’ Smith must do job ‘bet­ter’ with de­pleted lineup.

With three starters in­jured, Smith feels that he must do his job ‘a lit­tle bet­ter’

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW PARAS

ASHBURN | Af­ter the Red­skins lost starters Paul Richard­son, Shawn Lau­vao and Brandon Scherff ear­lier this week to sea­son-end­ing in­juries, quar­ter­back Alex Smith said Wed­nes­day he didn’t feel pres­sure to make up for their ab­sence.

Rather, the news put an “em­pha­sis” on the im­por­tance of do­ing his job well, he said.

“I have to hold up my end,” Smith said. “There’s cer­tainly no mak­ing up for any­thing. I think you can get into trou­ble try­ing to do that. No, I mean I have to do my job bet­ter, a lit­tle bet­ter.

“I think if ev­ery­body kind of takes that men­tal­ity, we’ll be al­right.”

The Red­skins have a lot to ad­dress be­fore head­ing into Sun­day’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers — namely get­ting three new of­fen­sive line­men (Austin Howard, Luke Bowanko and Jonathan Cooper) up to speed.

But Wash­ing­ton will also look to build off what was pos­si­bly Smith’s best game in a Red­skins uni­form. Last week against the At­lanta Fal­cons, Smith threw for

a sea­son-high 306 yards for a touch­down and an in­ter­cep­tion.

Smith said he felt “re­ally com­fort­able” dur­ing his most re­cent out­ing.

“Def­i­nitely from look­ing back to the start of the sea­son, where we are, just the things we’ve been through sit­u­a­tion­ally, I think that we have grown a ton in a good way,” Smith said. “Week to week the highs and lows are so big. I think you do the best you can not to ride that roller coaster so to speak, try not to.”

Eval­u­at­ing Smith’s first eight games can be tough. Smith has an 89.8 passer rat­ing this sea­son — his worst since 2013. He’s missed open throws and held the ball too long. With Smith at the helm, Wahing­ton ranks 22nd in of­fen­sive ef­fi­ciency and 25th in points per game.

The Red­skins, though, have re­lied heav­ily on star run­ning back Adrian Peter­son and as a re­sult, Wash­ing­ton ranks just 19th in pass­ing at­tempts per game.

Smith also hasn’t had a team at full strength with Jami­son Crow­der and Chris Thomp­son miss­ing sig­nif­i­cant time. Even Sun­day against the Fal­cons, he had to sur­vive with a dec­i­mated of­fen­sive line.

Coach Jay Gru­den said he’s seen im­prove­ment from Smith as the sea­son has gone on.

“From a sys­tem stand­point, I think he’s feel­ing more com­fort­able with the plays and the con­cepts that we’re run­ning and get­ting the ball out of his hands and scram­bling when he has to scram­ble,” Gru­den said. “He had a big scram­ble in the game last week, so I think he’s get­ting to where we want him.”

Smith’s sup­port­ing cast nec­es­sar­ily won’t get bet­ter any­time soon.

Left tackle Trent Wil­liams is ex­pected to miss an­other 2-3 games. Richard­son, Scherff and Lau­vao, of course, are out for the year. Crow­der (an­kle) and Thomp­son (rib) are still in­jured.

The Red­skins had just one of­fen­sive line­man — cen­ter Chase Roul­lier — prac­tice Wed­nes­day who was in the start­ing lineup in Week 1.

Smith said the goal for the of­fense is to op­er­ate sim­i­larly.

“I don’t think you look to all of the sud­den be­come some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Smith said. “.... We all have to step up, not just on that per­son. I think that’s more the men­tal­ity.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins quar­ter­back Alex Smith said he felt “re­ally com­fort­able” af­ter last week’s loss to At­lanta. He threw for a sea­son-high 306 yards and a touch­down.

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