Jump to content

Brad Smith showing great versatility


Recommended Posts

Jets' Smith showing great versatility

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Star-Ledger Staff

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- As quarterback Chad Pennington dropped back to throw during yesterday's morning practice at Hofstra, he spotted rookie wide receiver Brad Smith streaking toward the corner of the end zone on a post pattern.

Pennington, who is showing surprising zip on his deep balls, uncorked a perfect spiral. Smith, surrounded by three defenders, then made a sensational leaping grab for a 40-yard touchdown.

It was easily the play of the day and one of the best catches in training camp thus far.

Smith, the quarterback-turned-wide receiver taken in the fourth round out of Missouri, has started to get the offensive coaches excited. In an offense devoid of a big-time playmaker -- someone who keeps opposing coaches up at night -- Smith has become a wild card.

"I got in position and I was able to come down with it," said Smith, who is as modest and soft-spoken as he is talented. "Chad put the ball out there for me. I'm just trying to do my job, trying to make a play for the team. That's all I think about."

The Jets envision Smith as their version of Antwaan Randle El, the former quarterback at Indiana who helped the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory last season as a return specialist and crafty receiver who occasionally lined up at quarterback.

Smith (6-2, 210 pounds) has been given a special package of plays which include many of the things Randle El, now with the Redskins, did in Pittsburgh last season. Randle El finished the 2005 season with 35 catches for 558 yards and a touchdown, 12 carries for 73 yards and completed 3-of-3 passes for 67 yards. He also returned 44 punts for 448 yards and two touchdowns.

"It's a lot of live up to," said Smith, who has had a chance to throw off reverses, line up at quarterback and is getting reps as a return specialist. "(Randle El) is a great player. He has made a lot of plays. I don't think I'm going to model anything after him. I'm just going to do what I can to fit on this team. It might be a totally different thing."

At Missouri, Smith, once thought to be a better quarterback prospect than Texas' Vince Young, was a play-making machine. As a four-year starter, he became the first quarterback in Division 1-A history to pass for more than 8,000 yards and run for more than 4,000.

Initially, Smith was disappointed at not getting an opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL but he's over it now.

"I'm a wide receiver," he says.

Smith, who has also made a pair of circus catches in camp, had his growing pains as well, dropping consecutive balls during one practice. But he'll make the team as the fifth wide receiver behind Laveranues Coles, Justin McCareins, Tim Dwight and Jerricho Cotchery.

Smith said his biggest challenge in making the transition to receiver is getting off the line of scrimmage when a defender tries to jam him and knowing how to line up correctly with the right splits.

"Each day is a little bit better," coach Eric Mangini said. "Each day you capitalize on the opportunity and it's not, 'Well, who is that guy?' It's 'Did you see what he did?' or 'He's really making progress here.'"

Yesterday was a did-you-see-what-he-did kind of day for Smith, and he hopes to have many more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...