Smith's versatility is appreciated

Posted Oct 12, 2012

Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress is happy to see Alex Smith back in the lineup.

Cleveland Browns tight end Alex Smith was injured in the team’s 34-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 16 at Paul Brown Stadium and returned to practice on Wednesday.

The concussion cost Smith three games and limited the Browns to only two tight ends against the Buffalo Bills and at both the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants.

Having Smith on the field gives the Browns versatility from the tight end position. Known for his ability to block in the running game, Smith is a viable option when it comes to the passing game as well. Before the injury, Smith caught four passes for 29 yards, with a long reception of 17 yards.

“He’s a smart football player and, therefore, you can utilize him in a number of different ways, whether it’s playing on the line of scrimmage, playing in the backfield -- H or as a fullback,” Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress said of Smith. “Being able to motion him and displace him, he’s as good a blocker as he is a receiver. He’s a great utility guy that you can use in a lot of different capacities.

“You can open him up, close him down. It’s rare that a guy can have the skills to play in the backfield as well as play on the line of scrimmage and take care of the line of scrimmage.”

Smith’s return to the lineup comes at a time when the Browns have three wide receivers listed on the injury report.

Rookie Travis Benjamin and fourth-year pro, Mohamed Massaquoi, have both missed time with hamstring injuries. Massaquoi left the Buffalo game in the third quarter with his injury, while Benjamin was injured in the loss at Baltimore.

Jordan Norwood set career highs with nine receptions and 81 yards receiving against the New York Giants, but suffered a foot injury and was unable to practice on Wednesday.

“We’re really a next-man-up operation,” Childress said. “We kept a bunch of those (receivers), a handful of those guys up for the first game. I think we had five up for the first game and if we have to go down to three or four, we’ll go down to three or four. We’ll build it some other way. Alex Smith looks like he’s going to be back this week and that helps you build other personnel packages. You do what you have to do.”

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