Oakland Raiders: 7 Things To Keep An Eye On Against Arizona Cardinals

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12: Derek Carr
GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12: Derek Carr /
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Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders /

Sean Smith

The curious case of Sean Smith took another turn during camp when the team began experimenting with him as a nickel linebacker. At six-foot-three, 220 pounds, Smith has the size to bring down a tight end. As a cornerback, he’s got the skills to defend the pass. And he’s also got the speed to run somebody down.

The experiment with him in that role likely has more to do with the team’s need for a warm body who can cover the middle of the field, given the struggles of the linebacker group, than it is an indictment against his ability to play  on the outside.

This is not to say that Smith hasn’t had his struggles adapting to a new defensive scheme. As 2016 showed – he has. Although, he did play a good portion of the season with a surgically repaired shoulder after suffering an injury in late October, so his struggles may have also been physical.

But given that Smith has been running with the second team during camp, we very well may get a bit of an extended look at him against Arizona. Possibly.

It will be interesting to see where – and how much – he’s used in Saturday’s contest. Though most are very down on Smith and calling for his head, he still has a lot of good football in him. He just needs a little more time to work on some things.

The chances are good that he’s going to be the starting corner opposite David Amerson when the season starts. First round draft pick Gareon Conley has missed a lot of camp time and Breon Borders – though, making plays and turning heads – may not be ready for a prime time role.

Though Travis Carrie has been making the most of his opportunity, Smith is still the more experienced, better all-around cornerback. And for those reasons, he will likely resume his normal spot on the field when the regular season gets underway.