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Bills' Kathryn Smith: 'Rex Ryan is open-minded'

The NFL's first full-time female assistant coach credits Rex Ryan for her new role with the Buffalo Bills.

"I was surprised, yes," Smith told WGR in Buffalo, "but also, no, in the sense that Rex is open-minded. Rex and I have worked together for a number of years so I know him pretty well. We have a good working relationship and he's very loyal to people who work with him and people who he values what they do."

Smith acknowledged that her job as quality control-special teams coach is an "amazing opportunity" on a personal level. She also pointed out that Dr. Jen Welter began opening the door for women in football when she was hired as a training camp/preseason intern coaching inside linebackers for Bruce Arians' Cardinals.

"Jen worked with the Cardinals last year," Smith said. "That was huge. She really broke down a lot of doors there. But I also feel like there are so many women that work in sports, work in football and the NFL.

"Kim Pegula is the owner here -- that's as big as it gets. Maybe we're getting more recognition, but there's definitely a lot of women holding pretty important roles. I have an entry-level coaching position. There are women in very high positions throughout the league."

Smith's new position gives her an opportunity to climb the ladder of her profession. Just as importantly, she has emerged as a tangible role model for high school- and college-aged females with dreams of coaching football at the highest level.

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