After missing last week’s game with a neck injury, Sean Smith returned to the field for the Raiders Sunday night.
He didn’t get the start. He entered the game on the third play and promptly gave up a 26-yard catch to tight end Vernon Davis. Then he left the field. He then saw one play on the second drive and left again. Then he returned in the second quarter to cover Davis again and was immediately burnt for an 18-yard touchdown.
After giving up two big plays on three plays, Del Rio had seen enough.
“The package that we had in mind wasn’t real effective with him covering Vernon [Davis],” Del Rio said of Smith. “Vernon got loose on him twice. On the second one honestly we should’ve had some safety help for him but he let to guy run across the field on the first third down, that was a momentum swing there. That’s just the way the game flowed.”
You may recall that when Smith was demoted in training camp, he would spend a lot of time covering tight ends, which is a role second round rookie Obi Melifonwu was to play as a safety/linebacker hybrid, but Melifonwu was injured throughout most of camp before re-aggravating it and being placed on injured reserve. He won’t be eligible to return until at least week 8.
Smith played well in the season opener in Tennessee, but it’s long been clear that he is a match-ups guy. But how in the world a 33-year-old tight end is a bad match-up for him is a mystery.
Gareon Conley played well while Smith was out and if the team likes him more, Smith could continue to see limited snaps.