Three weeks. That’s how close we are to the start of the regular season. Twenty one days. And since we seem the numbers in the countdown seem to keep aligning with a player who is a topic of conversation, number 21 is...
CB Sean Smith
We should be talking bout Sean Smith attempting to improve upon his rough 2016 season. But that hasn’t been the subject of conversation surrounding Smith. Entering the second season of a 4-year $38 million deal, he not only didn’t show the improvement the team was looking for, but he was dropped to second team a few days into camp.
His first preseason game was indicative of just how bad he has looked. No matter who he lined up against, he would get beaten. He came in the game on the second play and Carson Palmer went right after him. He was force to grab his receiver and was flagged for pass interference. The rest of his day didn’t go any better.
The week following the game, he showed up well in training camp practice. And no sooner did it appear he was getting back in the coaches good graces, he was arrested on charges of assault.
The incident occurred on July 4 in which he is alleged to have beaten his sister’s boyfriend so bad, he put him in the hospital.
His role in the defense was unchanged in Saturday’s second preseason game in the wake of the charges against him. He still entered the game on the second play and Rams QB Jared Goff did just as Palmer did before him -- he went after Smith immediately. The result was Robert Woods catching a 10-yard pass. And the overall issues with the secondary were still very apparent.
It’s hard to know what to do with Smith at this point. Cutting him would leave behind $9.25 million in dead money, which means the Raiders would pay as much to have him as to not have him. They may just have to hope he find his game again and that could require they play to his strengths. They have three weeks to figure that out.
Who wore it best: WR Cliff Branch (1972-85)
The man who was so good, Al Davis spent 25 years trying to replace him following his retirement. And he never could. Branch was fast. Really fast. He could also catch very well and usually demanded double coverage as a true deep threat. He joined the Raiders as a 4th round pick in the 1972 draft and lined up opposite Fred Biletnikoff. During their time together, Biletnikoff had the most success of his career and the Raiders won their first Super Bowl.
By his third season, Branch was a full time starter and was an All Pro. He was named All Pro three straight seasons from 1974-76. The last of which culminating in winning Super Bowl XI. Branch was a full time starter for the Raiders for all three of their Super Bowl titles.
He finished his career in 1985 as the NFL's all time leader in post season receiving yards. He is also third in franchise history in receiving yards catching 501 passes for 8685 and 67 touchdowns. The two guys ahead of him -- Tim Brown and Fred Biletnikoff -- are both in the Hall of Fame. Branch not being in the Hall of Fame is an egregious oversight. Perhaps the most egregious of any of the deserving Raiders still not in the Hall of Fame.