By Tim Graham
When Brad Smith signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2011, much more was expected than delivered.
Chan Gailey craved Smith's versatility, and the receiver/quarterback/kick returner displayed a bunch. But one got the sense that figuring out the best way to deploy Smith was harder than anyone thought."I didn't put any expectation on it," Smith told me this afternoon of his time with the Bills. "I just wanted to come here, play as hard as I can, work with my teammates and let the chips fall where they may. I did that, so I'm proud of that.
The Bills released Smith from injured reserve today. He suffered broken ribs in the preseason finale, and the Bills couldn't afford to wait two months for his return. Now he's ready to play again.
Smith did a little bit of everything for Buffalo. In his two seasons, he had 37 receptions for 392 yards and three touchdowns, ran 34 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns and averaged 23.6 yards a kickoff return with a touchdown. He also was a core-four special-teams player, making several key coverage tackles.
Smith could not play for the Bills this year because they put him on injured reserve, but he was able to negotiate his release. He said he's healthy and can help another team.
"It's been long," Smith said of his recovery. "I broke a few ribs in some weird spots. Once it healed enough so it wouldn't rebreak, I had the chance to get back to where I needed to be. I've been cleared by the doctor. I should be good."
Smith would love the opportunity to return to the New York Jets, where he played his first five seasons and became a favorite of coach Rex Ryan.
"Absolutely," Smith said of whether he'd like to go back. "That's a place I love. I love the fans just as much as I love the Bills fans. It's the place I started. That would be real cool."
But Smith also has fond memories of Western New York. His daughter was born here, he enjoyed the community and he's bullish on the Bills' future.
"I want to thank the fans," Smith said. "I appreciate them, the Bills Mafia and everybody for supporting the team.
"I wish them a lot of luck. They got a talented team on offense, defense and special teams. They're going to do well."