Rusty Smith doesn't know how difficult the decision for the Titans to keep him on the 53-man roster rather than try and slide him to the practice squad.
Nor does he care. Smith is just happy to be the Titans' third-string quarterback behind Vince Young and Kerry Collins. He beat out veteran Chris Simms to claim the third role, and his impressive preseason play caused the Titans to not risk him to waivers where any of the 31 other teams could have claimed him on Sunday.
“I'm glad I'm still around, very glad I'm still around. I don't know if it was an easy decision or a hard decision, but I'm just glad I'm still here,” Smith said.
Smith was 18 of 33 for 198 yards with two interceptions in preseason, but displayed a strong arm and good pocket presence for a raw rookie. Coach Jeff Fisher said Smith has to now prove he is up to the task of being an NFL quarterback.
“I think Rusty has got a future in this league. He just needs to some work and we'll take advantage of that spot on the field,” Fisher said. “Having kept three, that puts a whole lot more pressure on him than ordinarily if we'd put him on the practice squad.”
For now, the Florida Atlantic alum says his goal is to learn from Young and Collins.
“I just want to learn from the older guys in front of me. They just have so much knowledge that you can't teach in the classroom, so I want to ask them questions, pick their brains and see what they have to share,” he said.
One advantage Smith had in his fight to make the roster was the fact that he played in a pro-set offense at FAU under legendary coach Howard Schnellenberger.
“I think it was a huge advantage for me, because I've taken snaps from under center before, whereas a lot of guys have just taken snaps from the shotgun,” Smith said. “Even though I did come from a pro-style offense, I still had stuff to work on on footwork and my drops. I can't imagine not having any kind of pro-style in my system at all.”