ALAMEDA – Raiders cornerback Sean Smith remained on the field after Tuesday’s walk-thru practice, working on his craft. Then he came into the locker room and stood by his stall, ready for questioning.
He knew the line wouldn’t be flattering. That was impossible after getting benched in Sunday’s 35-34 victory at New Orleans and having his woeful performance publicly criticized by head coach Jack Del Rio.
Smith exuded positive energy, admitting faults while maintaining confidence in future performance.
He started with the bad. That included three receptions allowed for 172 yards and a touchdown. The score came on a 98-yard sprint from Saints receiver Brandin Cooks, whom Smith never touched at the line and never caught downfield. That was his last play before getting pulled.
It was surprising to see Smith a healthy spectator. The Raiders gave out a massive free-agent contract to be their best cornerback on the field. On this day, he was the worst.
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“I was getting killed. I’m not going to lie to you,” Smith said. “It was getting bad out there. I was costing our team points and Coach (Del Rio) did what he had to do. I obviously would’ve loved to have stayed in and fight it out. Coach made his decision and did what was best for the team. I had to ride with it.”
Smith cost his team points. He did not cost them the game. The Raiders scored thrice in the fourth quarter and won on a last-second two-point conversion. That was the lone silver lining.
“Oh, yeah. My God,” Smith said. “That would’ve been a rough ride home (with a loss).”
Smith has generally been a quality cornerback in seven-plus NFL seasons, with some bad days like every cover man has. A game’s never gone as far south as Sunday.
“Like that? Nooooo,” Smith said. “It’s the NFL. If you play long enough you’re going to have days like that. You just have to move on quickly, have a short-term memory and be ready to roll.”
Smith says he will be. Del Rio announced Monday he would start next week’s game against Atlanta, and that he expects a solid rebound from one bad day at the office.
“It’s just like any other job. I had a bad day at work,” Smith said. “Then you come back the next day and get ready to roll for Week 2. …It’s the first home game. You want to put on (a show) for the home team.”