Plenty of things went right for the Raiders in 2016 as they won 12 games for the first time since 2000 and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, but the play of cornerback Sean Smith was not on the list.
Smith signed a four-year deal with Oakland as a free agent last offseason, but he struggled right off the bat and found himself on the bench before the first game of the regular season was over. He hurt his shoulder later in the first half of the year, which further limited him on the field and led to surgery when the year came to an end.
Smith said that both the benching and the injury were new experiences during a season that saw him trying to fit his style of play into the Raiders’ defensive scheme. He’s healthy now and says that last year
“With careers of seven-, eight-plus [years‘, there is always going to be that one year that everyone looks at like, ‘Oh, man. Did he lose it? What’s going on?’ The coaches have said I’m flying around,” Smith said, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I’ve got speed still. I feel great. That one year doesn’t define me. I know I’m way better than that. And I know what people are used to, and I get it. Everyone wants the Sean of old. No problem. … Two-one is back.”
The Raiders defense ranked 24th in passing yards last season, so a return to form for Smith would be a boost to efforts for bot a better ranking and a another winning season for the Raiders.