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Pederson: I hate that we'll face Alex Smith twice a year

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Washington's blockbuster trade for Alex Smith quickly became an out-of-nowhere, heat-seeking talking point during Super Bowl week.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson spent three years with Smith in Kansas City, tutoring the experienced veteran through some of his finest pro campaigns. Starting next season, Pederson and Smith will experience a new relationship -- as division rivals.

"Yeah, I just hate that we have to play him twice a year," Pederson said Wednesday. "Well, I'm happy for Alex. I've had a chance to work with him for three years obviously and I'm excited and happy for him. I think it's a great honor for him and the Redskins."

Washington has chosen to essentially swap out Kirk Cousins for Smith, a move that generated plenty of criticism. The modest third-round pick the Redskins relinquished looks fine on paper, but agreeing to send talented cornerback Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs is a move that could haunt Washington.

Still, the Redskins were an impossible long-shot to re-sign Cousins and have found a reliable franchise passer in Smith, who finds himself in a much better position. Instead of looking over his shoulder at Patrick Mahomes, Smith now shifts into a long-range starting role with legitimate job security.

"He's going to do fine. He's a pro's pro," Pederson said. "He's going to come in and he's going to demand perfection with the guys that he's working with and I'm excited to again have him in our division and to be able to coach against him again."

After teaming with Smith in 2016, Eagles passer Nick Foles agreed with his coach.

"Washington is very fortunate to have a quarterback in Alex Smith. My year with him was one of my favorite years of football," Foles said. "Just being there in Kansas City, getting to work with him, seeing a guy that for some reason people critique all the time, I mean, the guy's a winner. I mean, look at him. Look at what he did this year and he just keeps coming. He keeps getting better."

Foles labeled Smith as a player who "can turn a locker room around," calling him "one of the most athletic guys" in the NFL.

"This league is crazy," Foles said. "You never know what's going to happen, but Alex is a great quarterback and I really enjoyed playing with him."

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