The Raiders plan to play newly signed outside linebacker Aldon Smith in Sunday’s season opener against Cincinnati, according to Ed Werder of ESPN (Twitter link). The 25-year-old practiced with the Raiders and impressed their coaching staff, per Werder.
Prior to Werder’s report, there was question as to whether Smith would play this week – not only because he’s new to the Raiders’ roster, but because of a looming suspension regarding his most recent off-field troubles. Earlier Friday, the Santa Clara County DA filed three misdemeanor charges against Smith, stemming from an August incident — DUI with prior conviction, hit and run with property damage, and vandalism. An arraignment date for the ex-49er is set for Oct. 6, and the NFL is conducting its own investigation into the incident. Thus, a suspension figures to be coming for Smith, who has already faced multiple penalties for past legal run-ins.
However, barring something unforeseen happening before Sunday, it appears the Raiders’ defense will be bolstered – at least temporarily – by one of the league’s premier pass rushers. Smith has been a dominant force throughout his career, tallying 44 sacks in 50 regular-season games, and should aid an Oakland team that took down opposing quarterbacks just 22 times last season – the second fewest in the league.