ALAMEDA – Aldon Smith was spotted at a Warriors game last week, and told a reporter he expects to be back with the Raiders soon.
That would be a huge boon for the Silver and Black defense to add a top-flight pass rusher down the home stretch.
"I'll be back in two weeks, you can ask me all the questions then," Smith told the Associated Press on Nov. 3.
Whether that timeline’s realistic remains uncertain. Smith applied for reinstatement to the NFL in late October, a requirement after being banished at least one calendar year as a repeat violator of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Smith is eligible for reinstatement on Nov. 17, though NFL commissioner Roger Goodell must approve his application. There is no set timetable for Goodell to meet with Smith or make a final decision.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio can’t have contact with Smith during his suspension – only player engagement director Lamont Winston can have contact with Smith – but he certainly hopes Smith can come back.
“That’s a wait-and-see, hope-for-the-best situations,” Del Rio in his Monday press conference. “The way I’ve thought about it, and I haven’t thought a whole lot about it since, is that let’s let the young man get his life in order first. If he can do that, then we can talk about football. Let’s make sure his life is in order, and I’m sure that’s what the commissioner will do before he decides whether he’s going to reinstate him or not.”
Many fans are salivating over the prospect of adding Aldon Smith and Mario Edwards Jr. – he’s on injured reserve rehabbing a hip injury, but the team expects him to return – to the defensive front posthaste.
Del Rio isn’t focused on possible reinforcements. He’s worried about those currently available and getting them to continue playing better defense.
“We’re not going to wait for that,” Del Rio said. “We have to continue to grow and do the things that have helped us play much better defensively the last several weeks and build on that.”