- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 13, 2018

ASHBURN — Rookie running back Derrius Guice has noticed the way Alex Smith processes information.

On every snap they share the field, Guice said the Redskins quarterback will ask him if he knows the assignment as they break the huddle. Even though Guice said he knows the play, Smith still tells the rookie his responsibility.

There’s a reason for that.

“You could just see him trying to get used to everybody and get used to all the play calls, as well as me,” Guice said. “He’s a big help.”

After all, Smith is still learning the Redskins’ system. But he’s not behind schedule.

Following his trade from the Kansas City Chiefs in March, the 34-year-old quarterback has spent the last two months digesting the team’s playbook, terminology and his teammates’ tendencies.

The Redskins wrapped up their mandatory minicamp Wednesday — and teammates and coaches have consistently praised Smith for his intellect.

“One thing about Alex, he is the smartest guy I have ever been around, without a doubt, and he is in great shape,” coach Jay Gruden said. “He can move around and he can handle a lot of different things.”

Smith’s intelligence comes, partly, from his experience. Entering Year 14, Smith has had six offensive coordinators in eight seasons in San Francisco and played under Andy Reid in Kansas City.

Passing game coordinator Kevin O’Connell said Smith’s demeanor hardly changes, allowing the Redskins to give the quarterback a wide variety of information. And, O’Connell added, Smith has the ability to adjust, so “we can just roll.”

On the field, Smith has made smart plays. During Tuesday’s practice, he delivered a perfect 20-yard strike to Jamison Crowder in between two defenders for a touchdown. After the score, Smith ran up to Crowder, saying “so nice, so nice.”

“You can tell that he’s seen it all,” Crowder said. “He knows he can read defenses. He can read certain coverages easily. And he knows where he wants to go with the football. … It’s very good that he’s the quarterback, so I’m excited to see how the season goes.”

Smith, too, has spread the ball around during OTAs. He’s thrown the ball deep and tried to develop a connection with each of his receivers. Wide receiver Paul Richardson likes to refer to Smith as decisive.

Richardson said Smith can “throw guys open.”

“You kind of get nervous [when] you hear about a quarterback that throws all these touchdowns and all these passes to tight ends, [but] he’s coming out there and getting everybody the ball,” Richardson said. “We’ve been having fun with that. I appreciate it.”

When he returns for training camp, Smith will have to get used to tight end Jordan Reed and running back Chris Thompson — both of whom missed OTAs because of injuries.

The expectation, of course, is for Smith and the Redskins to win now. Gruden called last season’s 7-9 record unacceptable, and his team doesn’t have time for Smith to ease into it. Smith is coming off a career season, throwing for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns. 

But it’s a process. Gruden said he has to “be careful” about getting ahead of himself with calling plays for Smith, though he was confident Smith can take it.

“It’s just a matter of getting on the same page – what we call things, how we like to tag certain coverages, progressions, all that good stuff – so, I’ve been very impressed with him as a player and obviously as a person,” Gruden said.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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