ALAMEDA – Justin Tuck and Aldon Smith have been friends for five years now. The top-flight pass rushers share an agent and frequently work out together in the offseason.
Tuck has spoken to Smith over the last month, following an Aug. 6 incident where he was arrested on suspicion of DUI, hit-and-run and vandalism that prompted his release from the 49ers. He knows as well as anyone what Smith has gone through.
Tuck has a high opinion of the 25-year old star, and believed he could fit in well in a Raiders locker room loaded with leadership. He told the front office as much during a long feeling-out process between player and team.
Tuck played a part in bringing Smith to the Raiders on Friday, though he wouldn’t concede that point. He invoked the Fifth Amendment.
“I plead the Fifth. That’s my right,” Tuck said. “I do have that right, don’t I?”
Yup. Tuck doesn’t have to incriminate himself in this instance or any other. Sources later confirmed he was active in the process of bringing a dynamic pass rusher into the fray. His agent Doug Hendrickson confirmed that fact on Twitter.
Smith is a former All-Pro edge rusher with 44 sacks in 50 games. He’s also had five run-ins with the law since getting drafted and has had issues with alcohol in the recent past. Tuck didn’t want to address what has happened with Smith, instead focusing on what can be here in Oakland.
“I don’t like talking about the past,” Tuck said. “I like talking about the future, and the future is bright with that kid. That’s what we’ll concern ourselves with.”
Smith’s future playing in silver and black may come quickly. Head coach Jack Del Rio said the Raiders haven’t decided whether he’ll play Sunday against Cincinnati – odds are he will – but thinks Smith will assimilate quickly.
“I don’t think it’ll take him that long to get going,” Tuck said. “If he plays on Sunday he won’t have a full practice, but he’ll have enough. With a guy like Aldon and the talent he has, I think he’ll get in there and fit right in.
“I think he brings another weapon you can move around, someone who can help give different looks and make opposing quarterbacks very nervous.”