Raiders’ Smith OK be­ing pulled

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

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.

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