- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2003

A conversation between Bruce Smith and owner Dan Snyder regarding the veteran defensive end’s dwindling playing time will have no effect on how Smith is used, a Washington Redskins spokesman said last night.

Smith yesterday cited a conversation he had with Snyder following Sunday night’s loss at Miami, where Smith recorded a half-sack to tie the NFL career record. Smith, who expressed playing-time frustrations to reporters that night, said Snyder also was concerned about his on-field activity.

“I can’t help this team win if I’m not on the field,” Smith said. “This is not a selfish statement. I want to help this team win, and being on the sideline, my hands are tied. I think Mr. Snyder was a little disappointed about that when I talked to him. I’m at a loss for words.”

But team spokesman Karl Swanson made clear that Smith cannot alter his playing time by discussing it with Snyder.

“I brought up Bruce’s comments to Dan, and his reaction was that it was a disappointing loss and Bruce vented to a number of people,” Swanson said. “But that will have no impact on what players play. That’s a decision that’s left entirely up to coaches.”

Coach Steve Spurrier wasn’t aware of any conversation between Smith and Snyder, saying, “You’ll have to talk to those parties about all that.”

This wasn’t the first time Smith spoke directly to Snyder about his playing time. Washington signed Regan Upshaw in the offseason to start ahead of Smith, and Smith didn’t agree to return for a 19th season until he spoke to Snyder and Spurrier about an opportunity to win the starting job.

Upshaw’s arthroscopic knee surgery played a role in Smith getting and retaining the right end role, but Upshaw wasn’t effective in spot duty as a third-down left end and an occasional right-side replacement for Smith. When Washington emerged from the bye week to play Nov.2 at Dallas, coaches started Upshaw and gave him the bulk of snaps ahead of Smith.

The following day, Smith said he believed he was singled out by Spurrier for Washington’s struggles. There were indications Smith would start the following week against Seattle, but he didn’t, and afterward he said he had told defensive coordinator George Edwards to start Upshaw because of a thumb injury.

But when Smith didn’t return to the starting lineup the next week at Carolina or Sunday night at Miami, it was clear coaches simply had selected Upshaw as their right end. After tying the record, Smith let his frustrations be known.

“I’m not going to sit up here and say, ‘I, I, I, me, me, me,’” Smith said Sunday night, “but I think I need to be on the field a little more. I was certainly disappointed about that. Anytime we have a rookie out on the field [Dolphins left tackle Wade Smith], with my knowledge and my experience, I think I can do a good job of taking advantage of him.”


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