49ERS LB Smith out for season
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Linebacker Malcolm Smith, a standout in the 49ers’ spring practices who had been playing next to NaVorro Bowman, is finished for the season after tearing a pectoral muscle in Saturday’s practice.
Coach Kyle Shanahan hinted at that development, which was later reported by the NFL Network.
The 49ers signed Smith, 28, to a five-year, $26.5 million free-agent deal in March. They pursued him because of his familiarity with the defense and because he’s one of the fastest linebackers in the league, a trait he showed off in the spring. Smith and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh were in Seattle together, and Smith caught the interception that ended the 49ers’ comeback bid against the Seahawks in the 2013 NFC Championship Game.
His absence seems to clear a path for first-round draft pick Reuben Foster, who’s been practicing at the same weak-side linebacker spot at which Smith plays, but with the second-team defense. Foster has made a number of big plays in recent practices, although coaches have been cautious with their praise.
“Reuben, he has a lot of flash plays,” Saleh said on Wednesday. “The best way I can explain with Reuben is he’ll get his opportunity when he absolutely, absolutely deserves it.”
When Smith left Saturday’s practice, Ray-Ray Armstrong filled in with the first-team defense and Foster remained with the second-string unit.
“That would be a big [injury] for us, just because we’ve been getting so many reps together, jelling together,” Bowman said of Smith before his diagnosis was known.
Safety Sample released
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars have released oft-injured safety James Sample, a fourth-round draft pick in 2015.
The Jaguars parted ways with Sample on Sunday, after he missed two practices with an apparent injury. The team signed journeyman Jeron Johnson to fill Sample’s roster spot. Sample, who played in college at Washington and Louisville, has spent most of his NFL career on injured reserve. He played in four games as a rookie before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury and sat out all of last year with an elbow injury.
“You look to see who’s competing and who has the best chance to make the team and who doesn’t,” said Jacksonville Coach Doug Marrone.
CB Collins suspended
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins will be suspended for the start of the season for the second consecutive year for a violation of the league’s policy on performance enhancers.
This time, the suspension carries a bigger bite: 10 games.
The NFL announced Sunday that Collins has been suspended without pay for the first 10 games of the 2017 season. He was suspended for the first four games in 2016.
Collins, a second-round pick in 2015, has said he failed drug tests at Louisiana State.
The suspension will be costly to the Falcons’ depth. Collins started six games last season and had two interceptions. He moved into the lineup after star cornerback Desmond Trufant was placed on IR with a torn pectoral muscle.
Collins will be eligible to return to the active roster following the team’s game against Seattle on Nov. 20.
Glenn returns to practice
PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills starting left tackle Cordy Glenn has returned to practice and feels reassured after having a nagging left foot injury examined by a specialist.
Without discussing the exact nature of the injury, Glenn said a plan has been put in place freeing him up to practice following his visit to Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday. Glenn said visited Anderson to get a better understanding of why his foot has been bothering him for much of the offseason.
Glenn said he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season and answered, “No, not right now,” when asked if he feels there is any risk of aggravating the injury.
The Bills’ top-paid offensive lineman spoke after practicing with the starting unit Sunday. Glenn was held out the previous two sessions, and had been limited during the first six practices of training camp.
RB Radcliff added
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have added running back Brandon Radcliff and have waived injured linebacker Victor Ochi.
Radcliff, an undrafted free agent from Louisville, had been waived by the Indianapolis Colts in June.
Radcliff, who is 5-9 and 206 pounds, rushed for 2,365 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry at Louisville. He had nine 100-yard performances, including a 118-yard game in a victory over Florida State last season.
Ochi played two games with the New York Jets last season.