Playing it safe: Smith's Week 3 workload light in comparison to other veteran QBs

Josh Luckenbaugh
August 25, 2018 - 10:38 am
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Alex Smith's preseason production has been underwhelming, to say the least. After playing in just one drive Week 2 against the Jets, Smith was pulled after four in Friday night's loss to the Denver Broncos, departing with over eight minutes left in the second quarter.

And in comparison to other veteran quarterbacks who were in action Friday, Smith's workload looks light as a feather.

All five quarterbacks Paulsen listed in his tweet played the entire first half at least, Wilson staying in for two drives in the third quarter. 

In addition, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford also got significant playing time, remaining in the game for the first drive of the third quarter in Detroit's matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

These numbers certainly raise some questions regarding Jay Gruden's handling of Smith, especially considering this is Smith's first season in Washington and Gruden's 0-4 record in regular season openers. 

However, when asked about taking Smith and other starters out earlier than some would have expected Friday, Gruden said his primary concern is keeping them healthy heading into Week 1 of the regular season. 

"My goal was to get the one offense some looks and get them off the field after about three or four drives really, no matter what," Gruden said. "I want to get some key backups some good work against some of their ones, and that's what happened."

"But my whole intent is to get our starting group to Arizona healthy, and looks like that's what we're on pace to do right now."

Smith echoed those sentiments after the game, telling reporters he's content with his limited preseason playing time. 

"As good as it would feel to sit up here and '(we) played amazing and won a game,' the goal is to find out about our 53 guys that are going to make the team, and then obviously be ready to roll come September 9th," Smith said. "That’s the goal, and keeping that in mind, I do feel like we’re headed down that path."

"Only time's gonna tell. The proof will be in the pudding for us. We gotta be ready to roll come September 9th."

Considering how prematurely Derrius Guice's season ended after the rookie running back tore his ACL in the Redskins' first preseason game, it's understandable that Gruden is taking a cautious approach with his starters. And it's important to remember how much the Redskins were feeding the ball to Adrian Peterson Friday night, the veteran running back rushing 11 times against Denver. 

Nonetheless, if Smith and the Redskins don't look "ready to roll" on Sept. 9 against the Cardinals, Gruden's preseason approach will once again face stern criticism. 

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