NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Rookie Rusty Smith faced the local media for the first time as the starting quarterback and handled himself with confidence, looking people in the eye and answering questions directly, if not always thoroughly.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to start an NFL game at quarterback,” Smith said. “So it’s just a good time to get out there and have some fun. I’m still pinching myself making sure I’m not dreaming…”
“There are some really good playmakers that are on the offensive side of the ball and if something happens where I make a mistake, because I’m sure I’m going to make my mistakes, we have an excellent defense that I’m sure will pull me out of the hole.”
The Titans drafted Smith in the sixth round out of Florida Atlantic because they liked his size, arm and pocket presence. He is from Jacksonville, where he attends the same church as Tim Tebow and where he grew up parking cars for the Florida-Georgia game at his family’s restaurant in the shadow of EverBank Field.
I had a chance to ask Randy Moss for his thoughts on his new team’s new quarterback.
“I haven’t been here long enough, but what I’ve seen in Rusty in terms of his height and the way he throws the ball, I like his upside,” Moss said. “I haven’t been here long enough to really grade him and it’s really not my job to grade him. I haven’t been here for preseason, OTAs, minicamps and things like that to really evaluate him. But the time that I’ve been here and what he showed put there last week [in relief], I was cool with.
“Hopefully we can just go out here and help this young kid out. That should be our focus, not just on offense. I think offense, defense and special teams knowing we have a young quarterback, we have to try to go out there and make plays to try to help the young kid move on.”
Smith looked to Moss four times after taking over for Vince Young in the third quarter after Young suffered a season-ending thumb injury. Kerry Collins and Young had largely failed to look to Moss in the six quarters before that.
Now Moss may be at the forefront as Smith tries establish himself. Those efforts start against the league’s worst pass defense at Reliant Stadium on Sunday.
“Me personally, as a wide receiver with him at quarterback, I’ve got to try to make his job easier,” Moss said. “Not knowing who he’s going to throw the ball to in a situation, when my number is called I’ve really got to try to hone in and make plays for him. If it’s jumping, going between two and three guys, I just really want to go out there and play good for him, point blank.”