The Oakland Raiders overcame a rough three quarters in their overtime victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8. Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and his staff had to overcome an early injury, as defensive back Sean Smith exited the game after two defensive snaps.
The shoulder injury ended his outing during Week 8, and may also put a damper on his chances to suit up against the Denver Broncos. After not practicing on Wednesday, he showed signs of improvement heading into Friday.
Smith returned to practice on Thursday, but in a limited capacity. While the nagging shoulder injury hasn’t completely ruled him out of the divisional battle for first place, he will have a tall task should he return.
The Broncos have two noteworthy wide outs lined up with quarterback Trevor Siemian. Emmanuel Sanders continues to be a deep threat, while also being a reliable target for Siemian. Demaryius Thomas, who has underwhelmed thus far into the season, still is a difficult cover for any cornerback.
Fellow cornerback T.J. Carrie understands that Smith may not play this week, but stated what the defensive backs must do in order to be prepared for Thomas and Sanders, via Eddie Paskal of Raiders.com:
“You really have to just study the film,” Carrie said. “You have to know that some plays you’re just going to have to beat him [Thomas] to the position, because the way he is – he’s big, he’s strong, he’s physical – so you’re going to have to be in a position a lot of the times, to beat him almost to where he’s going, so that you can get position in order to try and make a play, but he has all the intangibles, all the abilities, and so does Sanders.”
Smith is the primary lengthy cornerback the Raiders have used in the past, coming in at 6’2″. With him potentially gone, the remaining cast will have to by in sync to stop the two notable threats.
Through his eight games this season (including the 2 snaps played against the Buccaneers), the 29-year-old has 20 tackles, two interceptions and four assisted tackles.
In eight games played, Carrie has three tackles, one pass defended and a forced fumble.