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Chan Gailey: Brad Smith is a quarterback like Kordell Stewart

Brad Smith, Leodis McKelvin

New York Jets’ Brad Smith, left, carries the ball for a first down while pursued by Buffalo Bills’ Leodis McKelvin during the first quarter of an NFL football game at New Meadowlands Stadium, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Brad Smith is not a wide receiver anymore.

Smith, who was listed as a receiver but was really more of a playmaking jack of all trades in his five seasons with the Jets, is now listed as a quarterback on the Bills’ roster. Bills head coach Chan Gailey says he views Smith as primarily a quarterback, but a different kind of quarterback.

“Brad is a very good athlete and was a very good quarterback coming out of college,” Gailey said. “He has proven he can make plays on the football field in a lot of different ways. We love his versatility and what he is going to bring to our football team.”

The Bills have Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback and Tyler Thigpen as the No. 2, but Smith can do things that Fitzpatrick and Thigpen can’t, and Gailey sounds like he’s interested in giving Smith regular snaps at quarterback. Gailey compared Smith to Kordell Stewart, who played both quarterback and receiver for the Steelers in the 1990s, when Gailey was their receivers coach and offensive coordinator.

“I see him being used in a similar role as I used Kordell in Pittsburgh,” Gailey said. “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.”

Gailey said Smith would also be ideal as the primary ball handler in the Wildcat package. He rushed 38 times last season for the Jets for almost 300 yards and a touchdown in that role, but he has attempted just seven passes in his five seasons with the AFC East rival. Buffalo’s head coach said Smith would also be a kick returner along with C.J. Spiller.

The NFL has eliminated the third quarterback rule and expanded the game-day active rosters from 45 players to 46, meaning Smith could be the No. 3 quarterback on the Bills’ depth chart but wouldn’t be restricted the way third quarterbacks were in the past.

“You have 46 players to place wherever you want,” said Gailey. “It is an advantage with a guy like Brad Smith. 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.”

There’s a risk of the Bills getting too cute, giving Smith too much to do and keeping him from doing any one thing very well. But there’s also the potential for Smith to become a unique player who does things with the ball in his hands that no one else in the NFL is doing: Smith could be a threat to run for a touchdown, throw a touchdown pass, catch a touchdown pass and return a kick for a touchdown, all in the same game. In Gailey’s mind, the possibilities are endless.