Raiders’ Smith OK being pulled
Deciding to go for a game-winning two-point conversion in the final minute might not have been the boldest move Raiders coach Jack Del Rio made in a season-opening win over the Saints on Sunday.
Benching $38 million cornerback Sean Smith midway through the third quarter and sitting him for the remainder of the afternoon clearly stood out and raised eyebrows in the locker room as well as around the NFL.
Smith was one of the marquee offseason additions made by general manager Reggie McKenzie, but Del Rio didn’t hesitate to pull Smith after he failed to get a hand on Saints wideout Brandin Cooks and was beaten for a 98yard touchdown.
It’s a move Smith agreed with, even if it came at his expense. He said he was not surprised when it happened.
“Not at all,” Smith said Tuesday. “I was getting killed, I’m not going to lie to you. It was getting bad out there. I was costing our team points. Coach did what he had to do.”
The Raiders signed Smith to a four-year contract that included a $20 million signing bonus to lure him away from the Chiefs.
Smith also allowed a 49-yard completion before the Saints’ franchiserecord 98-yarder from quarterback Drew Brees to Cooks.
“I have to make those kinds of calls,” Del Rio said. “I’m going to always do what I think is best for the football team, and that’s what it was.”
An eight-year veteran, Smith said he had never been benched in the middle of a game before.
“If you play long enough you’re going to have days like that,” he said. “You just have to move on, have a short-term memory and be ready to roll. It’s over.” Color commentary: The NFL isn’t blind to the concerns of its TVaudience regarding the “Color Rush” alternate uniforms the Bills and Jets will wear Thursday night.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy said the NFL consulted with colorblindness experts to ensure all uniform combinations “will be clearly distinguishable for all fans.” That begins Thursday with the Jets wearing mostly white uniforms and the Bills going with all red.
That’s a switch from last year, when Buffalo wore all red and the Jets all green during their prime-time game Nov. 12. The combination led to colorblind viewers complaining they couldn’t tell which team was which. Extra points: The Saints released RB C.J. Spiller, who signed a four-year, $16 million free-agent contract just last season. Spiller was a healthy scratch Sunday against the Raiders. ... Jaguars RB Chris Ivory was released from the hospital and is doing well, but his availability for Sunday’s game in San Diego remains in question. Ivory was hospitalized Sunday with a “general medical issue” and missed the season opener against the Packers. The Jaguars said there is no timetable for his return. ... Packers LT David Bakhtiari signed a contract extension that reportedly is a four-year deal worth up to $51.67 million. GM Ted Thompson announced the signing without releasing the terms of the new contract.