Oakland Raiders cornerback Sean Smith said Sunday’s visit from the Kansas City Chiefs will be another game, no additional emotions.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Smith said.
We’ll see. The first meeting of the season between the AFC West rivals pits Smith against his old team that lost him in free agency. Smith signed a four-year contract with the Raiders for a reported $40 million.
Smith played an important role for the playoff-bound Chiefs last season. A veteran presence, he helped groom Marcus Peters, who became the NFL defensive rookie of the year after an eight-interception season.
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The defense overall was solid in helping the Chiefs win their final 10 regular-season games and pitch a shutout against the Houston Texans in the playoffs.
Smith came to the Chiefs in 2013 after four seasons in Miami, and produced five interceptions during his Kansas City tenure, which was shortened in 2015 when he sat out the first three games under suspension. He looks back at those years with fondness and thought he might have continued in a Chiefs uniform.
“I enjoyed my time in Kansas City, made some great connections, friends,” Smith said. “For it not to go down was unfortunate … We had something special over there, you know. We had a pretty good defense, made some plays and went to the postseason a couple of times.”
“But I’m definitely happy to be a Raider. Glad to be here. I’m home.”
Smith is from the Los Angeles area but has family in the Bay Area. The Raiders were in need of help on the back of their defense, but the season didn’t start the way Smith had hoped.
In the season opener at New Orleans, Smith was benched in the second half after allowing a 98-yard touchdown reception to Brandin Cooks. For the game, Smith gave up four receptions for 183 yards.
“He had a rocky moment or two but he’s going to settle down and do just fine for us,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. “He’s definitely an asset for our defense.”
Smith has settled down, coming up with an interception in two of the last three games, picking off the Titans’ Marcus Mariota in the third week and the Chargers’ Philip Rivers last week.
“I started out kind of slow,” Smith said. “I had to make some adjustments, some tweaks here and there. It was nothing serious, nothing that couldn’t be fixed.”
The early troubles didn’t slow the Raiders, who won that game over the Saints and have only a home loss to the Falcons in the second week to blemish their record. The 4-1 start is the best for the franchise since 2002, the Raiders’ last Super Bowl season.
Do the Raiders have an information edge as they seek a fourth straight victory? Smith knows the Chiefs defense and worked against Andy Reid’s offense in practice for the previous three years.
“He’s had like little tips,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “When he first got here I picked his brain and have notes on all that stuff, but I’ve played (the Chiefs) a whole bunch of times now. You got a feel for who they are, but you’ll be ready for anything.”
Smith downplayed any advantage.
“Coach Reid has a plethora of plays that he can pull out,” Smith said. “I don’t think anyone ever has an inside scoop on that guy right there. He’s one of the best game-planners in the business.”
And Sunday will be about business, Smith said. He’ll catch up with Peters, Steven Nelson, Phillip Gaines and other former teammates from the Chiefs days. Those connections won’t fray. Neither will Smith’s feelings toward Reid, general manager John Dorsey and the organization that didn’t bring him back.
“I have no harsh feelings,” Smith said. “Coach Reid was one of the few coaches that was willing to give me a chance coming out of Miami and start for his team. I definitely thank him for that. I’ll be forever thankful to him and John Dorsey for bringing me there.”