Smith says: 'I think the time is now'

"I have five games left to learn as much as I can, prove as much as I can and get better into next year. Every rep I need to take advantage of, and every guy on this team needs to take it the same way, especially the younger guys."

Q: How good does it feel to be back at the helm?

Smith:
It feels great to be back on the field. Being injured the past two weeks, it's nice to finally be out there doing what I'm supposed to be doing: contribute to this team, keep learning and playing. It's nice to be back out there.

Q: Do you need these last five games so you won't have to start all over again next season?

Smith:
That's not to say I haven't learned anything. I think I've learned a tremendous amount even from watching the last few games. I still learn a lot every game. I think it's at the point right now where it might be more beneficial for me to actually take the reps now. I look forward to it. I look forward to getting better and taking advantage of every rep I get. They're so valuable in the NFL, and I'm grateful to have them. I need to take advantage of them.

Q: What did you learn watching from the sideline?

Smith:
You learn a lot of things. I get to see the things Ken does and a lot of the things Cody does. I get to learn from them, how they run the offense and the things they see. We all do things similar, but at the same time, there are little things we do differently. It's nice to see what their strengths are and the things they've done well and learn from those. The offense as a whole is something I'm still learning to grasp and learning little nuances about. Every week and every day I learn something new.

Q: Would you expect the defense to come after you?

Smith:
I would expect it, yes. For the next little while, that's going to be the case with most defenses when they face me. I'm a rookie, and that's what happens with rookie quarterbacks. It's nothing new.

Q: How do you counter that?

Smith:
You have to make a decision. That's the reason they put pressure on quarterbacks, because under pressure they don't make good decisions. That's something I need to prove wrong. That's the bottom line for me: making good decisions.

Q: What's your feeling about having so many rookies blocking for you on the line?

Smith:
It's exciting. We're such a young team with so much ahead of us, but I think the time is now. We need to make a difference now in order to get better in the future. We need to take advantage of this. The rookies are out there. The young guys that are out there on the field need to take advantage of the reps they're getting and get better from them. Otherwise, we don't deserve to be out there.

Q: Do you feel comfortable with rookie linemen blocking for you?

Smith:
Absolutely. I feel comfortable with whoever is out there. I think we're going to put 11 guys on the field and I feel confident in whoever we put out there. The guys on the team are going to put in the time and the effort, so I'm not concerned about that.

Q: Is the fact that you only have two wins a blessing in disguise because you don't have as much pressure?

Smith:
I don't think so at all. In fact, I think it's the other way, especially for the younger guys. I think it's the complete opposite. I played two games this season, and I take it the other way. I have five games left to learn as much as I can, prove as much as I can and get better into next year. Every rep I need to take advantage of, and every guy on this team needs to take it the same way, especially the younger guys.

Q: Will your wild abandonment change now that you know what it's like to be injured?

Smith:
I definitely learned something from it. There are times to take hits as a quarterback. There are times to go for the first down or go for the touchdown, but there are a lot of times to throw the ball away. There are times to slide and there are times to get out of bounds. I think I learned from that situation. Unfortunately it came from an injury that I had to learn it, but thankfully it wasn't a very serious injury. Looking back, it was probably a situation where I definitely should have gone out of bounds or thrown the ball away and not take a hit like that on an insignificant play where there's not very much yardage. That doesn't mean you should play scared. You still have pads on and are out there like everyone else. It's still the same game, so you just learn from it and get smarter.

Q: Are you a wiser person than you were five weeks ago?

Smith:
I think I'm wiser, but am I at the point where I need to be? No, but I learn from things every day, so in that sense I get smarter and learn more. I probably won't get where I need to be in a long, long time. I think you learn things every day, and there are 12-year vets out here that learn stuff every day. I think you need to continually keep growing.

Q: How much more comfortable were you in your second start as opposed to your first?

Smith:
That was the frustrating part. It felt so much better to me mentally, and that was with a defense that pressured me every down compared to the Colts, who didn't. Still, things seemed slower. Things seemed so much better in my mind, although it might not have seemed like it. For me, I felt like I made a big stride, so it was frustrating to get hurt like that and be out the next week. I felt like I had taken a big step and was looking forward to taking another one the next week.


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