Gru­den: Smith smartest guy I’ve been around

Red­skins praise new quar­ter­back for in­tel­lect

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

ASH­BURN | Rookie run­ning back Der­rius Guice has no­ticed the way Alex Smith pro­cesses in­for­ma­tion.

On every snap they share the field, Guice said the Red­skins quar­ter­back will ask him if he knows the as­sign­ment as they break the hud­dle. Even though Guice said he knows the play, Smith still tells the rookie his re­spon­si­bil­ity.

There’s a rea­son for that.

“You could just see him try­ing to get used to ev­ery­body and get used to all the play calls, as well as me,” Guice said. “He’s a big help.”

After all, Smith is still learn­ing the Red­skins’ sys­tem. But he’s not be­hind sched­ule.

Fol­low­ing his trade from the Kansas City Chiefs in March, the 34-year-old quar­ter­back has spent the last two months di­gest­ing the team’s play­book, ter­mi­nol­ogy and his team­mates’ ten­den­cies.

The Red­skins wrapped up their manda­tory mini­camp Wed­nes­day — and team­mates and coaches have con­sis­tently praised Smith for his in­tel­lect.

“One thing about Alex, he is the smartest guy I have ever been around, with­out a doubt, and he is in great shape,” coach Jay Gru­den said. “He can move around and he can han­dle a lot of dif­fer­ent things.”

Smith’s in­tel­li­gence comes, partly, from his ex­pe­ri­ence. En­ter­ing Year 14, Smith has had six of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors in eight sea­sons in San Fran­cisco and played un­der Andy Reid in Kansas City.

Pass­ing game co­or­di­na­tor Kevin O’Con­nell said Smith’s de­meanor hardly changes, al­low­ing the Red­skins to give the quar­ter­back a wide va­ri­ety

of in­for­ma­tion. And, O’Con­nell added, Smith has the abil­ity to ad­just, so “we can just roll.”

On the field, Smith has made smart plays. Dur­ing Tues­day’s prac­tice, he de­liv­ered a per­fect 20-yard strike to Jami­son Crow­der in be­tween two de­fend­ers for a touch­down. After the score, Smith ran up to Crow­der, say­ing “so nice, so nice.”

“You can tell that he’s seen it all,” Crow­der said. “He knows he can read de­fenses. He can read cer­tain cov­er­ages eas­ily. And he knows where he wants to go with the football . ... It’s very good that he’s the quar­ter­back, so I’m ex­cited to see how the sea­son goes.”

Smith, too, has spread the ball around dur­ing OTAs. He’s thrown the ball deep and tried to de­velop a con­nec­tion with each of his re­ceivers. Wide re­ceiver Paul Richard­son likes to re­fer to Smith as de­ci­sive.

Richard­son said Smith can “throw guys open.”

“You kind of get ner­vous [when] you hear about a quar­ter­back that throws all these touch­downs and all these passes to tight ends, [but] he’s com­ing out there and get­ting ev­ery­body the ball,” Richard­son said. “We’ve been hav­ing fun with that. I ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

When he re­turns for train­ing camp, Smith will have to get used to tight end Jor­dan Reed and run­ning back Chris Thomp­son — both of whom missed OTAs be­cause of in­juries.

The ex­pec­ta­tion, of course, is for Smith and the Red­skins to win now. Gru­den called last sea­son’s 7-9 record un­ac­cept­able, and his team doesn’t have time for Smith to ease into it. Smith is com­ing off a ca­reer sea­son, throw­ing for 4,042 yards and 26 touch­downs.

But it’s a process. Gru­den said he has to “be care­ful” about get­ting ahead of him­self with calling plays for Smith, though he was con­fi­dent Smith can take it.

“It’s just a mat­ter of get­ting on the same page – what we call things, how we like to tag cer­tain cov­er­ages, pro­gres­sions, all that good stuff – so, I’ve been very im­pressed with him as a player and ob­vi­ously as a per­son,” Smith said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Red­skins quar­ter­back Alex Smith has spent much of his early time with his new team de­vel­op­ing a con­nec­tion with his re­ceivers.

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