Smith helps to fill void

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He was signed as a quarterback with the intent to use him as a receiver and a Wildcat signal caller. On Sunday against his former Jets teammates Brad Smith saw the most extensive action as a wideout as a Bills and had a career-best day post four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.

"The plays he made I thought he did a great job stepping in there," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "He had a great week of practice. He's a good wide receiver. He hasn't had a lot of reps in terms of game reps to step in there and do what he did, but he's a big target and a smart player."

Smith was pressed into heavy action by necessity. With Donald Jones placed on I-R, Naaman Roosevelt inactive, free agent signee Derek Hagan still not familiar with the offensive scheme and call up Kamar Aiken short on experience, Smith was sorely needed to man a big role.

Though Smith had a potential game-winning touchdown catch knocked from his hands by Antonio Cromartie in the dying seconds of Sunday's game, Smith helped put the Bills in a position to win the game at the end.

Thrust into the number two receiver role Sunday Smith was targeted seven times by Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was clear that with his most extensive work in the practice setting at receiver leading up to the Week 12 game against the Jets he established a measure of trust with his fellow quarterback.

That wasn't more evident than when Fitzpatrick went deep to Smith in one-on-one coverage with the Bills down a touchdown 21-14 in the third quarter. Buffalo had just recovered a muffed punt by Cromartie giving the Bills the ball at the Jets 36-yard line.

Chan Gailey chose to try a big hitter and Fitzpatrick chose to give Smith a chance to make a play. Though Fitzpatrick's pass down the right sideline was a little inside, Smith with outside position leaped high and tipped the ball to keep it from falling into Cromartie's hands on the play.

"On the pass, Cromartie was in great position," Smith said. "I tried to use a double move on him and he stayed back.  Fitzpatrick put it up and I was actually reaching to knock it down. Somehow the ball was tipped up and I saw it floating."

As Cromartie fell to the turf, Smith kept his eye on the ball and pulled it in and ran the final 10 yards for a 36-yard scoring play, the longest of his career. More importantly it tied the score at 21 late in the third quarter.

"They had been playing us tough all game long, playing us with the bump man," said Fitzpatrick. "Cromartie is a very physical corner and he was in good position, but I threw it up. Sometimes you have to try to get your guys to make plays and allow them to have that opportunity and Brad made a lot of plays in practice so it really showed me that he was a guy that we could rely on there."

Whether the Bills choose to rely on him just as much in the coming weeks as they did on Sunday remains to be seen. Buffalo signed both Kamar Aiken and Derek Hagan to the roster. Aiken doesn't have the game experience that Smith has, but Hagan once he is up to speed with the offense could potentially take snaps from him in time.

But with five games left and the Bills putting forth their best offensive output in a month, it's likely that Buffalo's offense will keep Smith in the number two receiver role opposite Stevie Johnson with David Nelson in the slot.

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