Brad Smith's first shot at squaring off against his old team comes Sunday, when the Jets take on the Bills in Buffalo.
"It’s going to be crazy," the wide receiver/kick returner said this afternoon on a conference call from Buffalo. "It’s kind of a surreal experience just knowing those guys and playing with just about all of them. I expect to hear from Bart [Scott] and Eric Smith. It should be fun."
Smith was a special teams ace with the Jets and effectively ran their Wildcat (technically, they called it the 'Tiger' since that's the mascot at Smith's alma mater, Missouri). But while the Jets were flirting with the idea of adding Nnamdi Asomugha, who eventually signed with the Eagles, Smith wound up inking a four-year, $15-million deal with Buffalo.
"I was very comfortable there [with the Jets] and I liked it," Smith said this afternoon. "Being here in Buffalo is definitely a growing experience just personally as a football player, just learning and have a chance to be around these guys who have an unbelievable drive to win. It’s helping me grow and hopefully I’ll contribute something to help them."
Still, it's been an adjustment taking his talents to Western New York.
"I can be honest, at first it sounded crazy," Smith said. "Everything happened so fast when the lockout ended, and next thing you know I was on a plane to Rochester and I’m sitting in a team meeting and I know no one. It was unbelievable. It didn’t feel real. Guys like Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, it took time to hang out, show me around, introduce me to everybody and help me out."
Smith hasn't done all that much so far with the Bills. He's rushed 19 times for 84 yards and a touchdown, amassed just 103 yards on five kickoff returns, caught five passes for 43 yards and thrown an interception on his lone pass attempt.
"Brad's going to be a very valuable member of this team as time goes on," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "We didn't get an offseason to implement him, and implement the things that I think he'll be able to do long-term for us. If we would have had that time to get to know him better and see what he can do and can't do, I think we would have had a better idea on how to use the tools he has.
"But he's been a big asset. He's done a lot of good things that don't come out in statistics sometimes, and that's what people go on is statistics. But he's had a huge impact on our team."
Smith agreed his lack of production and opportunities stem from the unfamiliarity factor more than anything else.
"I think it’s just coming from nowhere," he said. "No background with each other, learning the entire offense at quarterback and at receiver. Just trying to get the plays down for the future. They were able to work me in a few times to get the Wildcat stuff in. It was never a big deal to me. It’s more about winning and both things don’t always show up."