"I was surprised at first, but I also know Rex really puts a lot of faith in his staff and his people, so from that standpoint, it made sense, knowing I've worked with Rex directly and indirectly for a number of years," Smith told the team's official website. "So he knows my work ethic and what I've done in the past, but it was a bit surprising that he came to me with this."
Ryan said in a video posted to the team's official website Thursday that Smith will be on the field for practices and games and that she will provide a variety of duties for the staff. A story posted on the site stated that Smith is currently analyzing film of special-teams units for the Bills' opponents next season.
"A lot of that goes with the tough things, with doing all the computer stuff, doing all the drawings, all that type of stuff," he said. "Working mainly with scout teams. I know she'll do a great job. She's done things like this in the past."
Smith, who has not yet been made available to reporters, thanked the team in a statement released Thursday afternoon in which she noted the "extraordinary attention" that her promotion has received since Wednesday.
"It's been pretty extraordinary, the reaction, and I realize that it's groundbreaking," she told the team website. "I might be the first, but I think very quickly there are going to be many other women in the league. So I may be the first, but I don't think I'll be the only one for very long."
Bills co-owner Kim Pegula said she was surprised at the attention the announcement has received.
"Not to take away from what Kathryn had achieved, but she was just deserving of the job, and it was a natural process," Pegula told WGR SportsRadio. "So I'm a little bit mixed on it. It is a big deal, but at the same time, she earned that position, so I really did not see all this hype coming.
"Sometimes, maybe just because we know Kathryn, we've interacted with her, we've seen her at work, we know what she's capable of, so maybe that's why for us it was just a normal process. It was great that we were able to promote someone from within. So maybe for us, that just kind of, we saw it through different eyes. But I'm guessing the outside world sees something much bigger because they don't know Kathryn on a day-to-day basis.
"We're just doing what we feel is right. And hiring Kathryn and promoting her to the position was just the right thing to do, because she's just deserving of it."
Several Twitter accounts, including Mattel's "Barbie" brand and Girl Scouts of America, have sent congratulations to Smith.
The Jets hired Smith, 30, as an intern in 2003 when she was an undergrad at St. John's. She was named a college scouting intern in 2005 and transitioned into a full-time administrative role with their personnel department in 2007. She became assistant to Ryan with the Jets in 2014 before holding a similar role with the Bills this season.
"I think starting in scouting and personnel really gives me a good foundation for understanding the game, the players, the positions," Smith said. "So I think that will just help provide me with a good base for now learning more of the specifics of what we do on special teams with respect to scheme."