ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio has a new weapon at his disposal. Former 49ers edge rusher Aldon Smith, who signed a one-year contract worth up to $8 million with the Silver and Black on Friday, was at the team’s morning practice and is eligible to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“He’s a really good player and we’re excited to have him join our family,” Del Rio said. “We look forward to working with him.”
Del Rio wouldn’t say whether Smith will suit up this weekend and contribute. Friend and fellow defensive lineman Justin Tuck said Smith is in excellent physical shape, a major factor in whether he can take a few snaps without knowing the playbook.
His position also plays a role in that. The Raiders can sic Smith on the quarterback in passing situations, without much of a learning curve.
“You can bring certain positions up to speed quicker than others,” Del Rio said. “We’ll see where (he) is and we’ll make a determination as we get closer to Sunday.”
The Raiders brought him in to play as soon as possible. Unless the NFL intervenes and suspends a man charged Friday with three misdemeanors by the Santa Clara County District Attorney – his arraignment is Oct. 6 -- odds seem solid Smith will play against the Bengals.
Smith comes with significant baggage. He has had five run-ins with the law since being drafted in 2011, and could face a lengthy suspension if the latest charges against him stick.
The Raiders aren’t walking into the situation blind.
“We are very thorough in what we do and how we do it,” Del Rio said. “We feel confident about the addition and about our football team going forward.”
Smith brings All-Pro talent to the Raiders’ front, already armed with veteran Justin Tuck and second-year star Khalil Mack. Defensive end is Smith’s natural position, and he could be asked to attack with regularity in what could become a potent pass rush.
“What we’ll ask him to bring every day is the same thing we ask of anyone else here,” Del Rio said. “Come in every day full of energy, ready to work. Have a great attitude, be a great teammate, and find your role. And that’s for every member of our football team.”