ALAMEDA, Calif. — Sean Smith’s sore neck and shoulder appear to be getting better and Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio is hopeful the veteran cornerback will be able to play Sunday in Washington.
Smith was held out of Oakland’s Week 2 win over the New York Jets and suffered a setback in practice earlier this week before being a full participant in Friday’s workout. Del Rio sounded encouraged, although Smith is still listed as questionable.
"We put it on there because there’s still a little bit of a question," Del Rio said. "You don’t have probables anymore. Given the choices, I just left him that way."
Smith started in the Raiders’ season-opener and shared time at right cornerback with TJ Carrie but did not play the following week.
The 30-year-old Smith signed a $40 million, four-year contract with Oakland in 2016 but has had mixed results on and off the field since then.
On the day the Raiders broke training camp this year, Smith was arrested on felony assault charges stemming from a July 4 incident in Southern California. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 29 in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pasadena.
The timing of Smith’s absence against the Jets coincided with the debut of first-round draft pick Gareon Conley, who has also battled health issues this season.
The 24th-overall pick in this year’s draft, Conley has had only two full days of practice after missing all of training camp and most of the preseason with a shin injury. After being inactive against Tennessee in Week 1, Conley made his debut against the Jets and gave the Raiders secondary a spark while logging more than 80 per cent of the defensive plays.
Late in the second quarter of the 45-20 win over New York, Jets quarterback Josh McCown lofted a deep pass down the left sideline to wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and in Conley’s direction. The Raiders rookie leaped and swatted the pass down for an incompletion.
Conley was limited again this week in practice because of the shin injury but was a full participant Friday.
"We feel good about the work he got in last week," Del Rio said. "We think he’s a good young player. Where he is at this point, we’re comfortable with him playing. It’s just a matter of how much, we’ll determine that."
The Raiders are tied for 12th in pass defence this season, although two games is a small sample size. Oakland’s secondary figures to get a stiffer test Sunday night against Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins.
"We know they’re going to come out and try to throw it on us," Raiders safety Karl Joseph said. "We’re going to have to be on our game. He’s a great quarterback. He’s probably the best passing one we’ve seen so far."
Notes: Wide receiver Amari Cooper (knee), tight end Jared Cook (shoulder) and running back DeAndre Washington (hamstring) were all full at practice after being limited earlier in the week.