He'll be listed as a quarterback, but free agent signee Brad Smith will be that and a lot more for the Buffalo Bills in 2011. A multi-purpose threat, Head coach Chan Gailey compared Smith to another multi-purpose player he had as a coordinator in Pittsburgh.
"I see him being used in a similar role as I used Kordell (Stewart)," said Gailey. "He can play some receiver and quarterback. He gives you a lot of versatility. He can play special teams, cover kicks and return kicks. He can do a lot to help a football team win games."
It's tough to say that Buffalo's interest in Smith would have been as serious as it was were it not for the rule change in the new CBA that will allow teams to dress 46 players instead of 45 and designate a third quarterback. All the third quarterback rules are gone, but when you have a multi-faceted player like Smith you have someone that can be the third quarterback, a receiver and a kick returner. It's like having player 46, 47 and 48.
"Why do you think we got him," asked Bills GM Buddy Nix chuckling.
"It is an advantage with a guy like Brad Smith," said Gailey. "He can come in and out. He can go in and play, and come out. You don't have to re-designate someone else. In my opinion, it is good for teams to have a guy like that."
Making the decision to sign with Buffalo wasn't an easy one for Smith, but he explained what sold him on the Bills.
"It's Chan Gailey's vision," he said. "As a player, I know what I can bring to the table on this team. On offense, we have tremendous talent at wide receiver, running back and quarterback. I just add more. I can also help on special teams, which is a huge part of the game. I felt the hunger in this team to get where it needs to be. I just want to be a part of something special."
Gailey said Smith will take "some snaps" at quarterback and receiver, and stated that he's tailor made for the Wildcat package. In an ideal world Gailey would have a myriad of things designed for Smith in his offense, but with the former Jet coming in new to everything the playbook doesn't figure to be as open for Smith this year.
"If we had four months together, he'd open it up a lot more," said Gailey. "I think eventually he will open up the playbook quite a bit. It is our responsibility that we don't throw so much at him that he gets frustrated. He needs to take things in increments and learn a little bit at a time. It won't be comfortable for him for quite a while, but he'll get it."
Balancing the responsibilities of three different positions (QB, WR, KR) isn't anything new to Smith so he intends to have it all down sooner rather than later.
"I have been doing it for five years," he said. "I've just found a way to break down the roles each week I have to go about (doing). Sometimes at training camp, I have to focus on one thing and the next day on another thing. It's just a matter of having the fundamentals down at each spot. Once you get those down, you can branch out. It really comes down to playing football. It seems complicated, but it's just football."
For Smith it's less about where he lines up and more about what he does when he's lined up. That's why he claims to have no preference for any one position.
"I play whatever it takes to win," he said. "That's what I do."