ALAMEDA – Sean Smith had a bad day at the office Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The high-priced Raiders cornerback was benched by head coach Jack Del Rio after giving up three big pass plays, including a 98-yard touchdown to receiver Brandin Cooks.
He allowed 172 receiving yards in that play trio, which was enough to get pulled from the game.
It won’t get him demoted. Del Rio said Monday that Smith will be back in the starting lineup for Sunday’s home opener against Atlanta.
Del Rio spoke to Smith briefly after a 35-34 victory over the Saints.
“I said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to own up to that. That certainly wasn’t anywhere near where it needed to be and I know you’ll bounce back. Be ready to face the music because they’re going to be coming at you,’" Del Rio said. “He’s a big boy. He’ll bounce back. He’s going to be a good player for us, I said that yesterday. It was not what we need and he knows that.”
Pulling an established veteran is never an easy decision. Smith was given a contract worth as much as $40 million this offseason to be the team’s top cornerback.
“I have to make those kinds of calls and guys have to trust my judgment,” Del Rio said. “I’m going to always do what I think is best for the football team and that’s what it was. That’s all it is.”
DJ Hayden took over for Smith on the outside, and allowed four receptions on as many targets for 21 yards and a touchdown over the entire game. He was also flagged three times in pass defense, though a few were suspect calls.
“I really thought he fought his butt off,” Del Rio said. “I think he’s been very consistent. This year and this camp, the way he’s approached his work and the way he played yesterday, I think he’s been very solid. I think he’s ready to have a good year for us.”