Steve Smith had to be going out of his mind this summer when a groin injury cost him valuable training camp time. After missing all but five games last season due to a fractured scapula suffered in Week Two, Smith really made his mark in the postseason. He chipped in one of the biggest plays of the Giants' Super Bowl victory when he caught a short pass from Eli Manning and converted a third-and-11 with a 12-yard gain that immediately preceded Plaxico Burress' championship-winning grab. Now fully healthy, Smith is ready to break out during his sophomore season. Here's what number 12 had to say to TGI after a recent practice.
Q: How good does it feel to finally be healthy?
A: Oh man, there's a lot of stuff going around the league. You just never know; any day something can happen.
Q: You feeling as good as possible right now?
A: Yeah, I feel great right now. I really feel great.
Q: How tough was it to miss time in camp after missing so much of last season?
A: It sucked just to lose all those reps. Coaches were pretty high on me because Plax wasn't practicing and Toomer was only going once a day. Those are just quality reps that you get and it was real tough to miss out on them.
Q: You think this is going to be the year for you?
A: No question. I just feel like I'm ready to help any way that I can. It's tough because we have two great receivers; so it's hard to get a lot of playing time. But whenever I get the opportunity I'm going to make the most of it.
Q: But the third receiver here sure gets a lot of reps, no?
A: For sure. I'm lucky that Coach Gilbride has definitely opened up the playbook and is trying to get me in there and trying to get me some balls and stuff. With the departure of Shockey, that's opened up a lot of balls for a lot of guys.
Q: I know you picked up a lot of Shock's routes last season after he got hurt. Will that continue?
A: Yeah, definitely; a lot of the third down stuff for sure. That's why we have four wides now; just to get another receiver in there to go against the nickel corner or safety.
Q: Can you believe yet that you won a Super Bowl as a rookie?
A: I really can't. Growing up to be a Super Bowl champ is your dream. To have it happen in my first year was awesome. When I go home people tell me I'm the luckiest guy ever so it feels good. I'm just happy to be here.
Q: Where do you go from there?
A: Well, I didn't score a touchdown. So there are a lot of individual things I still want to do. My expectations from myself; I want to be a starter some day. So there are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish.
Q: Tell me about your huge play in the Super Bowl?
A: That third down, yeah, that was big. It was just a routine play and it worked out perfectly. Our guy blocked off the defender and I was open and got the first down. That was sandwiched by two more big plays. The next play we scored a touchdown and the play shortly before mine was David Tyree's big catch. Those were three huge plays on one drive. People still tell me that I had a huge play on that game-winning drive so that makes me feel real good.
Q: What kind of goals do you have for this year?
A: My main goal is just to stay healthy and everything else will take care of itself. I feel that if I can stay on the field that I'll be able to accomplish a lot of the goals that I want. I'm just trying to take it one game at a time, not think about it, and just play.
Q: Can you tell that you're a real fan favorite on this team?
A: I feel it. I really do. When I go around and people find out who I am they tell me that they were all so happy when I got drafted. They say that they see me in practice and like my skills. We have a lot of talented receivers on this team. I just want to be able to stand out someway.
Q: What's the main difference that you've seen in Eli between last year and now?
A: He's just definitely a lot more confident. He takes control in the huddle. He's more of a leader, outspoken in meetings and stuff like that. I feel like I can go talk to him when I need to. He's just really cool and open and easy to speak to. That's probably the main difference.
Q: How has being around Plaxico helped you?
A: Well, he's just a player. When you need him and it's Sunday he's going to be out there playing his hardest. I haven't seen a guy that size move like that and move like he does and catch the ball like he does. I want to be as consistent as he is week-in and week-out. He's really someone that the defense really has to key on, which helps everyone else. Hopefully I'll be thought of like him or Toom in the future. That'd be great.
Q & A: Steve Smith
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