Player Diary: Steve Smith

Of course all the time I missed this season was disappointing, but it's great to be part of it now and contributing. It's a long season and you just never know what's going to happen. You always have to remember that it's a marathon and not a sprint. Right now though, I am 100 percent; my body feels great.

I wasn't getting the experience that they and I thought I'd be getting earlier this year. But getting the reps in practice now is huge for me and so is getting the timing down with Eli (Manning), which makes it a lot easier going into the games.

Guys were tough on me when I wasn't playing, I know that. They were calling it a redshirt year for me and teasing me about stuff like that. But I just focused on getting back, keeping my head in the playbook and staying focused mentally. I had to do everything I could to stay in the game since I couldn't be out there physically playing.

Now that I'm back, it's good to see the guys and coaches embrace me a little more. Everyone was always nice and no one really pressured me or anything, but you definitely see a difference when you're out there playing and making a contribution. Now that I'm playing they really can't tease me or anything like that. I'm making plays.

Getting to play in playoff games after my rookie year is great. It's a thrill. You see guys that have played in the league 10 years that still haven't reached the playoffs. It's a great opportunity. I'm happy for New York. I'm happy to be here now and definitely happy to be contributing playing.

Since I played at USC there are definitely some similarities since the postseason is such a high level of competition. There's a similar stage and high expectations; people definitely want to see you win, that's all that want to see. But this is the NFL now, so there's a lot more at stake. I think I've done a good job of not really worrying about that. I'm just worried about learning and getting everything down with my team so that it's easy and I'm ready for the games.

They've also been simplifying things for me to make it easier out there. Coach (Kevin) Gilbride has been helpful and Eli has been great. I'm actually doing a lot of things that (Jeremy) Shockey would have been doing on offense. In our four-wide sets, I'm playing the ‘Y.' I'm working the middle of the field and working safeties. Those are things that I've been used to doing since college, so it makes it easier now.

Now there's no replacing Shockey; he's definitely a beast. But (Kevin) Boss and I can switch off and do some different things there and create some different mismatches.

It really is the greatest feeling to contribute. You know that this is what you came here to do. This is your job. Not being able to contribute when I was hurt was tough; it was hard to handle. I knew I could make plays, but was unable to. But now that I am making plays, I just want to be a consistent contributor.

All my teammates have seen me do it in practice, but now they're seeing me do it in games. That's really where it counts.

I had a great time in that Tampa game. That one big catch I had (a 21-yarder to convert a third down that led to New York taking a 14-7 lead) was just a good read by Eli. It was a one-man route and I was the only receiver out there. Their guys were kind of on me a little bit, but I just moved to another window and Eli hit me and it was a big play.

Speaking of Eli, he's definitely progressed during this whole season. He already was a leader earlier in the year, but I think he's become even more of a leader. Now he's definitely becoming more comfortable with it and stepping into that role. He's making plays down the stretch when it counts in the crucial moments of the game and that's what's good.

For me, finishing strong would make this a successful rookie year. Without a doubt I have to finish strong. I just want to show that I'll be out there working hard every play, like all the other guys on this team.

I would say this season was a success. It was definitely tough, but not everything's going to be easy. There are going to be bumps in the road. So I'm just glad I got over that and I'm moving on.

Heading into Dallas, I have a huge amount of confidence in our team. We're coming off two good games. We're confident playing the Cowboys. We've already played them twice and had two close losses, but we feel like we can play with them and win the game.

Boss talk

"We've been looking forward to seeing Steve get back on the field all year so it's been exciting to see him back out there, contributing and playing really well. It's nice to contribute with another rookie and it's fun to be out there with him." – Giants TE Kevin Boss

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