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Seven Things We Learned About Alex Smith


As players take their final breaks before training camp, we will take a look back at the new faces from this offseason and what we've learned about them, football and otherwise, so far.

Today we'll focus on quarterback Alex Smith:

1.He practiced against the Redskins passing game coordinator Kevin O'Connell in high school, and the 14-year veteran is actually a year older than his coach.

"We're both from San Diego," O'Connell said. "When Alex was a senior in high school, I was a junior. We played against each other in some passing tournaments, never in a real game or 7-on-7's and stuff. I've known Alex for a long time. One of the main reasons why I was so excited about getting him was I know what he's like as a leader."

The familiarity between the two will certainly help Smith transition from his time with the Kansas City Chiefs to becoming the face of the Redskins offense. With O'Connell understanding a great deal about Smith off the field, he should be able to get the veteran clicking with his fellow skilled position players well ahead of schedule.

2. He joins the Redskins after coming off the greatest statistical season of his career.

After recording 4,000 yards for the first time in his 13 NFL seasons and leading the Chiefs to their second straight AFC West division title, the Utah product earned a trip to his third Pro Bowl. In addition, he led the NFL in passer rating (87.4) and threw a career high in touchdowns (26), placing him ahead of the likes of Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.

Smith's progression in becoming a dominant passer as he ages is a narrative that can only be exemplified by a handful of quarterbacks today.

When determining if he can build off his fantastic 2017, it's important to look at the weapons that surround the 14-year veteran. While in Kansas City, he had an explosive threat in Tyreek Hill, super-star tight end Travis Kelce and a promising rookie running back in Kareem Hunt that finished last season as the league's top rusher with 1,327 yards.

Now working alongside Paul Richardson, Jordan Reed and Derrius Guice, you can put together the rest.

3. He's very intelligent.

Smith earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Utah in just two years after compiling 64 credits prior to college. In addition, ​the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft obtained a 3.74 GPA in those two years, and began working on his master's degree prior to being selected by the San Francisco 49ers.

"One thing about Alex, he is the smartest guy I have ever been around, without a doubt, and he is in great shape," head coach Jay Gruden said. "He can move around and he can handle a lot of different things. We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now. This isn't a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."

4. He's used to Jay Gruden's offensive scheme after working with a similar system under Andy Reid in Kansas City.

"Both from West Coast worlds, so it's kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same," Smith said. "There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it's not the same language. I guess that's the best analogy I can make."

Training camp will be very important for Smith to master Gruden's adaptation of the "language," as it will be the first time the three-time Pro-Bowler will work with his new teammates in full pads and competing at a much higher pace compared to OTAs and minicamp.

5.He is establishing strong relationships with the Redskins offensive skill players quickly.

Creating ​a great sense of chemistry this early with the players surrounding him shouldn't really come as a major surprise to Redskins fans because Smith was slotted into a similar position when he was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs in 2013. He has been praised for his leadership ability and hard work ethic since the moment he arrived to the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudon County, Va.

"He's been good. He's got good command of the offense already," Jay Gruden said. "Great command of the huddle. He's just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days [of OTAs], I would say I'm very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn't be much of an issue with as much as he's played in a similar-style system."

Take a look at the images from Alex Smith's first day with the Washington Redskins.

6. He is more than capable of making big throws down the field.

It's amazing that as Smith has become one of the most experienced quarterbacks in today's NFL, his public image remains tied to his early playing days with the 49ers.

However, after finishing third last season with 13 completed passes of 40-plus yards, he's proven that he can make big plays. His comfort of launching the ball down the field has made him a very challenging quarterback for defenses to prepare for because of his ability to maintain possession and hit his receivers for long touchdowns.

"What stands out the most is he's [Smith] very decisive," Paul Richardson Jr. said. "He's not second guessing himself. He's reading the coverage, man or zone. He's trusting us to make it out of our break to meet the ball. He's putting the ball in great spots with great timing and for it to be this early we can only go up from here."

7.He's a proven winner.

While he may not receive as much attention as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers because of a more conservative play-style, Smith has demonstrated he knows how to win games and get his team to play in January. Competing with the Peyton Manning-era Denver Broncos and a talented Oakland Raiders side headlined by Derek Carr makes his stronghold over the AFC West in the last five years even more impressive.

Only Russell Wilson and Brady earned more victories while Smith spent his five seasons in Kansas City.

With the Redskins looking to turn some heads this season, they really couldn't have landed a better option in Smith because he's not the type of quarterback that is going to draw a massive amount of attention from around the league, even if he is dominating opposing defenses every week.

"Ah, well, this is his first year here. We'll give him a break.' It just doesn't work that way. Executing is executing," Smith said. "Good ball is good ball. I think you know the difference. Playing this long, you feel like you've got a good grasp on it. We've got to go. There has to be a sense of urgency… When we get out there and line up and play, no one's taking it easy on you because you've got some new faces. It's just not how it works, so we've got to get up to speed."