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Broncos WR Smith speaks up but gives no hint of retirement

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Rod Smith isn't ready to talk retirement.

The 37-year-old wide receiver spoke up Thursday for the first time since his season was declared over exactly a week earlier. The Denver Broncos declined to activate him for the season's second half because his surgically repaired hip is still on the mend.

Smith said he met with coach Mike Shanahan this week and was told he no longer had to attend meetings. He said he'd continue to go to practices and games and help the young receivers decipher defenses.

"My role is limited but my heart and my desire for us to win football games is not limited by no means," Smith said. "And I'm going to go out there every day and try to make us better."

Smith took no questions from the group of reporters crowded around his locker eager to ask him about whether his spectacular playing career was finished. He said he was only thinking about helping the Broncos (3-5) turn around their season.

"As far as what happens after this, I'm not worried about it. So as far as next year, I'm not worried about it. I just want to get through this football season and actually get comfortable with my body because right now I still have discomfort in my hip," Smith said. "So, I really want to get comfortable with my body and, if nothing else, be able to lead a normal life whether I play football or not.

"But it's really not about me. So, that's what took me so long to talk to you guys. It's not about me. It's about us. It's about our team. It's about us being 3-5 and how can we go and take these next eight weeks and dominate the rest of this football season and find a way to get in the playoffs and do what we started out to do."

Smith, who holds franchise records for career receptions, touchdowns and receiving yards and whose 849 catches are the most by an undrafted player, underwent an operation in February and had held out hope that he'd come back for the last half of the season.

"I tried to take something that was realistically a 12-month injury and tried to make it into something that was 8 1/2, nine," Smith said. "And it was a grind and I was basically tearing up my body trying to do it."

Smith revealed in training camp that his hip had bothered him since 2004, the year before he went to his third Pro Bowl, and that he played through agonizing pain all of last season, when his 52 catches for 512 yards and three touchdowns represented his worst season since becoming a starter in 1997.

Smith said his hip was such a mess -- torn labrum, frayed cartilage, bone spurs, floating fragments -- that his surgeon couldn't believe he had played at all last season.

He returned to practice last month but quickly realized he wasn't ready to play again. So, he's back to being a sideline spectator in sweats, talking technique and sharing advice.

"I'm going to be out there at every practice, I'm going to every football game and trying to facilitate any way I can, interpret defenses and things like that for our players and let them know about winning football," Smith said. "Somehow we've lost sight about how to go out there and collectively win."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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