Oakland, CA – One door closes, another one opens. The Raiders got better when they added Aldon Smith to their roster just days before the home opener. Despite Santa Clara conveniently charging him with three misdemeanors almost three hours after news broke he signed with Oakland Friday morning. He will suit up on Sunday and play twenty snaps in the home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Known for his troubles off the field, Smith has garnered a reputation on risk versus reward. The players talked openly about not focusing on Smith’s past. The Raiders only concern is to win games especially tomorrow’s game. Head coach Jack Del Rio expressed the same sentiment in his press conference.
“Aldon is an extremely talented young player,” said Del Rio. “We welcome him to the Raiders family and expect him to bring his best every day and be a great teammate.”
“I don’t really know about his past,” Safety Charles Woodson said. “Aldon is a grown man. Whatever he has to deal with, I’m sure he’ll deal with accordingly. I’m not a babysitter, and I don’t think anyone expects anyone else to be his babysitter. The only thing we expect is that he comes in and works hard.”
Smith was released by the 49ers on August 7th after being arrested for suspension of DUI, hit-and-run and vandalism. The Defensive End was charged by the city of Santa Clara and not by the alleged victim.
His arraignment is set for Oct 6, leaving the NFL to decide a punishment. But after the Tom Brady debacle I think the league will quietly await the systems full process.
In the meantime, Smith gets a second chance to prove he belongs on the field doing what he does best, sacking quarterbacks. The addition to the Raiders defense gives Oakland more weapons. Who can forget Smith stats with San Francisco, he totaled 44 sacks in 50 games. His career totals include 193 tackles (141 solo), five passes defensed and 5.5 sacks in eight career playoff games.
“We are confident that the Raiders provide an environment where Aldon can thrive through the support, structure and leadership within the building,” said General Manager Reggie McKenzie. “We are excited to have Aldon here in the Raiders family.”
“I don’t like talking about the past,” Defensive End Justin Tuck said. “I like talking about the future, and the future is bright with that kid. That’s all we’ll concern ourselves with. He brings another weapon you can move around, someone who can help give different looks and make opposing quarterbacks very nervous.”
Playing along side Khalil Mack to assemble a pass-rushing duo seems to be the talk of the sports world right now. The Bengals Coordinator Hue Jackson spoke high praise about Mack, especially under Oakland’s new Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Mack has improved on his pass-rushing skills and one memorable game was against the Arizona Cardinals. He suffocated Carson Palmer with two sacks, 5 quarterback hurries and one quarterback hit. Mack keeps getting better and working side by side with Smith will be explosive.
“He’s fast, he’s sudden, he’s strong, he’s got spin moves, he’s got karate moves,” said Jackson. “The guy is a rolling ball of knives. He can play.”
The Raiders complied a total of 22 sacks last season, tied the second-fewest in the NFL. The tandem would be explosive. Smith has a lot of talent and is always looking to learn more about the game.
Many of his defensive teammates on the 49ers retired in the offseason. But Oakland’s veterans are available if needed. The presence of Woodson and Tuck in the locker and on the field is more than one can ask for.
“Adding an All-Pro two days before Week 1 gives the whole team juice,” fullback Marcel Reece said. “It’s exciting for everybody around here. He’s been involved in some unfortunate things but, just like the rest of us, he wants to focus on football right now. We’ll help him in any way we can and help him become a good Raider.”