Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is intimately familiar with shoulder injuries.
He missed all or parts of three seasons during his eight-year career at San Francisco because of shoulder issues, so when St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn slammed Smith to the turf on back-to-back plays at the end of the first half of the Chiefs’ win Sunday, he recognized the symptoms of a sprain to his right shoulder.
Smith immediately underwent treatment during halftime, and came back to complete 10 of 13 passes for 115 yards in the second half of the Chiefs’ 34-7 victory.
“There, in the middle of it, you’re pretty loose, you’re feeling loose, you kind of keep all of that swelling out and feel pretty good,” Smith said on Wednesday before the Chiefs began preparations for this Sunday’s game against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium.
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Smith seemed to throw effortlessly during the portion of Wednesday’s practice that is open to reporters.
“The last two days have been great,” Smith said. “I’ve got great work in, and I expect the same (Wednesday).”
After the St. Louis game, Smith gave little indication he was hurt. He didn’t sport an ice pack or any kind of wrap on his throwing shoulder.
“I got treatment after the game, too,” Smith said. “ I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. I felt like it was something I could handle. I’ve had a history of stuff with my right shoulder. I was a little sore, but I felt good, though.”
In 2007, Smith’s third NFL season, he suffered a separated shoulder and three torn ligaments in the first series of a game against Seattle. Smith would miss two games, start three games and miss the final six games before undergoing surgery which cost him the entire 2008 season.
In 2010, Smith was inactive for two mid-season games because of an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
During the Rams game, Smith completed 25 of 29 passes for 223 yards and a franchise-record 86.2 completion percentage. But only one of his 29 attempts traveled more than 10 yards downfield. Of his 25 completions, 18 went to running backs or tight ends. And 164 of his 223 passing yards (73.5 percent) came after the catch.
Smith became the first starting quarterback since Miami’s Ryan Tannehill in 2012 to win a game while throwing so few passes deeper than 10 yards downfield, according to ESPN.com, but he insisted the short passing game was not a concession to his shoulder.
“It had nothing to do with it,” Smith said. “For me, I’m going where the defense tells me to. We didn’t pre-determine anything … I felt they had a couple of young cornerbacks playing off (the receivers), and they were trying to protect them.”
The Rams came after Smith, blitzing on 60 percent of his dropbacks, which also could explain the short passing game. He’s yet to throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver this season.
But if the Chiefs saw a lot of blitzing by Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, wait until they see the exotic blitzes concocted by Jets coach Rex Ryan. The Jets may be 1-7, but they’re tied for fourth in the NFL with the Chiefs with 24 sacks.
“You watch the film, and they’ve gone after some good quarterbacks,” Smith said. “They got after Green Bay pretty good … got after New England a little bit. They’ve had some good moments of playing football.
“They’re aggressive. They play every coverage there is. They throw a lot at you. They do a lot of unorthodox things. They’ve got linebackers and defensive linemen and defensive backs all playing different positions. They have defensive linemen in the secondary … guys all over the place … overload pressures.
“They do a lot of strange things in an attempt to create some chaos and create some problems.”
Smith has not missed a snap, much less a start, to injury since he joined the Chiefs in 2013. When facing the Jets pass rush, Smith won’t take any extra precautions to protect his shoulder.
“Over the years, you develop more and more things just to try and stay healthy,” Smith said. “For me, just trying to create arm health as you get older and older.”