New tight end Alex Smith joined the Redskins for practice on Wednesday and said he expects to debut with his new team on Sunday.
“Absolutely,” Smith said, asked he could suit up against the Bills. “Just trying to get up to speed as fast as I can. Wherever they need me, I’m going to make sure I’m ready to go.”
Smith, an 11-year NFL veteran who hasn’t played a down this season, was signed Tuesday to replace an injured Derek Carrier. Smith was well aware that the Redskins had lost three tight ends for the season and was hoping he’d get a call from Coach Jay Gruden, who had coached him in Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.
“I saw all the injuries that the Redskins were having, so in the back of my mind I was thinking it was a possibility,” Smith said. “And finally when I got the call from Coach Gruden, he said, ‘Are you ready? Are you in shape?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. What took you so long?’”
Smith, who is listed at 6 foot 4, 250-pounds and will wear No. 83, played for Gruden in Cincinnati in 2013 so he expects to pick up the offense quickly.
“Once you see some of those familiar plays, it makes you feel like you can just go out there and play [rather] than thinking and worrying about your assignments,” Smith said.
Gruden added: “He has familiarity with the offense. He stepped right in here and knows all the terminology already. We needed somebody [to step in] fast. …He’s big and can handle the in-line blocking, catch a ball and do some good things.”
Smith said his biggest challenge this week will be getting back into football shape. He hasn’t hit anyone since he spent nine-days in New Orleans’ training camp last August.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Smith said of his first practice in Washington. “I was just trying to get my feet under me. I’ve been able to work out over this time, so I’ve stayed in semi-football shape. [But] you never quite get into football shape until you get out there on the practice field.”
As excited as he is to join a team making a push for the playoffs, he’s even more excited for the opportunity to jumpstart his career.
“It was a very frustrating process,” he said of waiting for another call. “I saw all the injuries happening all across the league. It happens every year. You’re just waiting for a chance, hope you get that opportunity. Fortunately I got one here, and I definitely want to capitalize on it.”