The NFL has officially announced what was widely expected: Texans defensive end Antonio Smith has been suspended for the last two games of the preseason and the first game of the regular season.
For the rest of the preseason, Smith will be allowed to attend team meetings, but not to practice. Beginning on Saturday, August 31, and continuing through the Texans’ regular-season opener against the Chargers on Monday, September 9, Smith is not allowed to participate in meetings, practices or any other team activities. He will be allowed to re-join the team on Tuesday, September 10.
Smith will spend Week One on the reserve/suspended list, which means the Texans won’t have to count him toward their 53-man limit on the final cutdown day of August 31.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks imposed the suspension as a result of Smith ripping off Dolphins guard Richie Incognito’s helmet and swinging the helmet at Incognito’s head. As the league pointed out in its announcement of Smith’s suspension, that’s a clear violation of the rules, which state, “A player may not use a helmet that is no longer worn by anyone as a weapon to strike, swing at, or throw at an opponent.”
Smith will appeal his suspension, and he has three business days to file that appeal. Appeals are heard and decided by either Matt Birk or Ted Cottrell, who were jointly hired by the NFL and the players’ union to hear appeals of discipline for on-field infractions. If Birk is chosen as the appeal officer, it will represent the first high-profile case he has heard since becoming an appeal officer this month.