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Wednesday, August 10, 2011
How soon will Steve Smith play?

By Dan Graziano

So the Eagles made another big-splash signing, swiping receiver Steve Smith away from the division-rival Giants. But of course the reason Smith lasted this long into free agency is the serious knee injury and resulting surgery he had late last year. So the question becomes how soon Smith can actually suit up and play for his new team, and the answer to that question is a bit foggy.

Steve Smith
During his best season with the Giants in 2009, Steve Smith made 107 catches for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns.
"The player in me, the athlete in me wants to get back out there and show you guys what I can do," Smith said on a conference call Wednesday night. "But I've got to be realistic."

Asked if it were realistic to think he could play in the season's first four weeks, Smith said, "Could be Week 1, you never know."

Which was weird, because the Giants were giving off a much different vibe earlier in the day and week when they still believed they had a chance to re-sign Smith. In Wednesday morning's news conference at the Meadowlands, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said, "It's going to be a long haul for him," and, "He's got a ways to go," in reference to Smith's recovery from the surgery.

"Maybe Coughlin had a plan up his sleeve when he said that," Smith said. "But I got checked out by both teams' doctors and got positive reports."

It's possible, sure, that Coughlin was trying to maintain the Giants' bargaining leverage by putting it out there that Smith wasn't fully healthy. But reports out of Philadelphia indicate that the Eagles hope Smith can contribute in the first month of the season. If he does, he'll compete for catches and playing time with quite a number of other highly talented Eagles offensive players, including DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Ronnie Brown and, if he's back healthy, Jeremy Maclin. And as Smith himself pointed out, quarterback Michael Vick likes to keep the ball for himself sometimes too.

"Great players all want the ball, all want the stats," Smith said. "But when you have the opportunity to win the Super Bowl, that means more. Guys are going to have to put their egos to the side, and if we do that, we'll go far."