Oakland Raiders Preseason Week 3: Winners and Losers

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Aug 2, 2015; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith (53) stretches at training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Winner: Malcolm Smith

The Raiders signed Malcolm Smith, the former Super Bowl MVP, to a contract this offseason, likely on the advice of Ken Norton, Jr., the Raider defensive coordinator who has been Smith’s position coach for all but 1 season since 2007 (at both USC and with the Seahawks). It was speculated that Smith would be a situational player because of his pass defense acumen but relative lack of size and weak run defense pedigree. Instead, Smith has been the listed starter at the Will linebacker spot since the first depth chart came out, while Sio Moore – the former star at the position – has been lost in the shuffle.

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Smith proved that he can be every bit the linebacker that Moore is and then some last night. Smith, known as a cover linebacker, was a true stud against the run, helping the Raiders hold the Cardinals starting offense to 29 rushing yards on 15 carries in the first half. Smith led the team in tackles with 9, and was involved on the tackle for loss and forced fumble on third down along with Khalil Mack that killed one Cardinals drive.

Smith showed last night he can be an every down linebacker who can defend the run and the pass. He also looks good on film, moves quickly and looks a bit bigger and stronger than he has in the past with Seattle. While it’s unfortunate that his rise may mean the demise of fan favorite Sio Moore, it’s obvious that the Raiders coaching staff and front office definitely knew what they were doing by bringing in the former Super Bowl MVP.

Next: Loser: Trent Richardson