Brad Smith’s tenure as a potential multi-dimensional offensive weapon ended quietly on Friday.
Smith was released from the injured reserve list, the team announced. Smith suffered broken ribs in the exhibition finale but now is fully healthy. His release gives him a chance to try to hook on with another team for the final half of the season.
Smith failed to fulfill the vision former coach Chan Gailey had for him when he was signed in 2011. The Bills were targeting him as a key contributor as a Wildcat quarterback and a kick returner. They gave him a four-year contract that averaged $3.67 million a year.
However, the Wildcat formation never emerged as a productive element in the Bills’ offense. Smith had just 34 carries for 203 yards in 2011 and 2012. As a receiver, he caught 23 passes his first Bills season and 14 his second. He only wound up being a part-time kickoff returner, taking back 33 kicks over two seasons. He had one kickoff return for a touchdown last season. He was bidding to make the team strictly as a wide receiver this summer. He had restructured his contract over the summer to give himself a better shot to make the 53-man roster.
Smith has fond memories of Western New York. His daughter was born here, he enjoyed the community and he’s bullish on the Bills’ future.
“I want to thank the fans,” Smith said. “I appreciate them, the Bills Mafia and everybody for supporting the team. I wish them a lot of luck. They got a talented team on offense, defense and special teams. They’re going to do well.”
Smith said he’s healthy and can help another team.
“It’s been long,” Smith said of his recovery. “I broke a few ribs in some weird spots. Once it healed enough so it wouldn’t re-break, I had the chance to get back to where I needed to be. I’ve been cleared by the doctor. I should be good.”
Smith would love the opportunity to return to the New York Jets, where he played his first five seasons.
“That’s a place I love,” he said. “I love the fans just as much as I love the Bills fans. It’s the place I started. That would be real cool.”
Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone confirmed EJ Manuel, who practiced fully for a third straight day, will start at quarterback as expected against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday.
Starting strong-side linebacker Manny Lawson was excused from practice for personal reasons Friday and is questionable for Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh, coach Doug Marrone said.
“Manny Lawson, I spoke to him this morning,” Marrone said. “I excused him. It’s not injury related. He’s taking care of some personal issues.”
If Lawson can not play, it’s expected Jerry Hughes would see much of the action in his place, with Nigel Bradham likely seeing some added snaps, as well.
Rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin also practiced fully on his sore hamstring and is probable. Rookie receiver Robert Woods (ankle) did not practice and is not expected to play Sunday, although he will make the trip to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers could be forced to do some shuffling on the offensive line. Pittsburgh has started four different combinations in eight games.
Starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert was limited in practice Friday and is listed as questionable. If he can’t start, Guy Whimper will take his place. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee) practiced fully and declared himself ready to start. Tackle Mike Adams, who lost his job to Beachum a few weeks ago, is questionable with a rib injury. Starting cornerback Ike Taylor (concussion) practiced fully and is expected to play.