- The Washington Times
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

ASHBURN — After the Redskins lost starters Paul Richardson, Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff earlier this week to season-ending injuries, quarterback Alex Smith said Wednesday he didn’t feel pressure to make up for their absence.

Rather, the news put an “emphasis” on the importance of doing his job well, he said.

“I have to hold up my end,” Smith said. “There’s certainly no making up for anything. I think you can get into trouble trying to do that. No, I mean I have to do my job better, a little better.

“I think if everybody kind of takes that mentality, we’ll be alright.”

The Redskins have a lot to address before heading into Sunday’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — namely getting three new offensive linemen (Austin Howard, Luke Bowanko and Jonathan Cooper) up to speed.

But Washington will also look to build off what was possibly Smith’s best game in a Redskins uniform. Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Smith threw for a season-high 306 yards for a touchdown and an interception.

Smith said he felt “really comfortable” during his most recent outing.

“Definitely from looking back to the start of the season, where we are, just the things we’ve been through situationally, I think that we have grown a ton in a good way,” Smith said. “Week to week the highs and lows are so big. I think you do the best you can not to ride that roller coaster so to speak, try not to.”

Evaluating Smith’s first eight games can be tough. Smith has an 89.8 passer rating this season — his worst since 2013. He’s missed open throws and held the ball too long. With Smith at the helm, Wahington ranks 22nd in offensive efficiency and 25th in points per game.

The Redskins, though, have relied heavily on star running back Adrian Peterson and as a result, Washington ranks just 19th in passing attempts per game.

Smith also hasn’t had a team at full strength with Jamison Crowder and Chris Thompson missing significant time. Even Sunday against the Falcons, he had to survive with a decimated offensive line.

Coach Jay Gruden said he’s seen improvement from Smith as the season has gone on.

“From a system standpoint, I think he’s feeling more comfortable with the plays and the concepts that we’re running and getting the ball out of his hands and scrambling when he has to scramble,” Gruden said. “He had a big scramble in the game last week, so I think he’s getting to where we want him.”

Smith’s supporting cast necessarily won’t get better anytime soon.

Left tackle Trent Williams is expected to miss another 2-3 games. Richardson, Scherff and Lauvao, of course, are out for the year. Crowder (ankle) and Thompson (rib) are still injured.

The Redskins had just one offensive lineman — center Chase Roullier — practice Wednesday who was in the starting lineup in Week 1.

Smith said the goal for the offense is to operate similarly.

“I don’t think you look to all of the sudden become something different,” Smith said. “…. We all have to step up, not just on that person. I think that’s more the mentality.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.