Sep 12, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith talks to quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during a timeout against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Confidence kickstarts 3-3 Falcons

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith feels good about the health of his team, including the secondary he disagreed was “banged up pretty good.”

There is no debating his level of confidence in kicker Younghoe Koo, who is standing out during a season in which kicking struggles appear to be contagious.

“You build confidence — we’ve got a lot of confidence in Younghoe,” Smith said. “That’s not an easy position to break into this league. Most of the times those guys get cut. … It’s tough. You’ve got to be tough-minded. It’s a specialty job. You see a career path, a lot of these guys, they bounce around. Fortunately, Younghoe is here. He’s a guy that’s improved. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him. Of course, you look up there, I had all the confidence in the world, just like I did in New York, he’s going to smoke that thing in there. He did.”

Koo made a 36-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired Sunday, leading the Falcons to a 30-28 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Smith said he had a laugh about Koo’s celebration, but his success feeds his thinking when it comes to strategy.

“You get paid to make decisions,” Smith said. “That’s what you signed up for.”

Atlanta is 3-3 with wins over the Dolphins (1-6), New York Jets (1-5) and New York Giants (2-5).

The 3-4 Carolina Panthers are due up this weekend for Halloween festivities in Atlanta. Game 5 of the World Series is scheduled for Sunday between the Braves and Astros.

Smith said he grew up following the Braves in Tennessee with no MLB team to pull for, and appreciates “how electric the atmosphere was” during the NLCS games in Atlanta.

The Panthers opened the season 3-0 but have lost four straight. Starting quarterback Sam Darnold finished Sunday’s game on the bench but is set to return this week, according to Carolina coach Matt Rhule.

NFL Network also reported cornerback Stephon Gilmore, acquired from the New England Patriots, would suit up for the Panthers in Week 8. It’s possible Gilmore will align across from rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, who racked up 163 yards at Miami.

Smith confirmed right tackle Kaleb McGary, who didn’t play against the Dolphins, was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

“That’s why you have a team. That’s life in the NFL,” Smith said.

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Green Bay Packers linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) looks on  the field during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Packers OLB Za’Darius Smith undergoes back surgery

Green Bay Packers star linebacker Za’Darius Smith is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery this week, NFL Network reported Friday.

Smith played 18 snaps as a reserve in the season opener against the New Orleans Saints despite intense back pain and was placed on injured reserve on Sept. 17.

The Packers haven’t revealed that Smith underwent surgery or whether or not it would be season-ending.

The 29-year-old Smith made the Pro Bowl in both of his first two seasons with Green Bay. He had a career-high 13.5 sacks in 2019 and 12.5 last season.

Smith spent his first four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and had 18.5 sacks in 58 games (16 starts).

The Packers are missing Smith’s pass-rushing skills as they have just four sacks through three games.

–Field Level Media

Jun 15, 2021; in Eagen, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin (83) runs the ball as Minnesota Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith (32) defends him in drills at OTA at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings LB Cameron Smith retires one year after heart surgery

Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith completed a comeback from heart surgery, but plans to retire from the NFL.

Smith, 24, issued a statement via Instagram on Wednesday night.

“After careful consideration and thorough discussion with my friends and family, I have made the difficult decision to retire from the NFL,” the statement read in part. “I know this transition isn’t going to be easy, but I am excited to tackle this next chapter of my life with the same passion and pursuit that I did football.”

He was a fifth-round pick by Minnesota in 2019 out of Southern Cal and missed the 2020 season.

Following a false positive COVID-19 test last August, Smith learned through an extensive physical he would need surgery to repair a congenital heart defect.

Smith played for Minnesota in the preseason opener. He logged 18 snaps on defense, six on special teams, and recorded one tackle before leaving the game with a concussion.

–Field Level Media

Jul 28, 2021; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith works out during training camp at NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles WR DeVonta Smith week-to-week with knee sprain

First-round pick DeVonta Smith has a knee sprain that will keep him out 1-2 weeks of his first Philadelphia Eagles training camp.

Smith, the 10th overall pick in the 2021 draft and reigning Heisman Trophy winner, was injured in the team’s Saturday night practice and underwent testing Sunday.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and Smith were teammates at Alabama. Hurts said during minicamp the pro game will not be a challenge for Smith because he’s self-driven and understands the nuances of the position.

“(At Alabama) he was trying to work. We were in the indoor (facility) late at night, getting the work in,” Hurts said. “So I think that shows the mentality he has and I think he’s bringing all of that with him here.”

Jalen Reagor will get more work with Smith sidelined. Reagor, a first-round pick in 2020, did not participate in the first three practices due to a failed conditioning test.

Travis Fulgham, Quez Watkins, John Hightower, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward are the other receivers competing for spots in training camp.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Braden Smith (72) during their preseason training camp practice at Grand Park in Westfield on Monday, August 5, 2019.

Colts Preseason Training Camp

Colts sign OT Braden Smith to $72.4M extension

Offensive tackle Braden Smith agreed to a four-year, $72.4 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday.

Smith stabilized the right tackle position as a second-round pick in 2018. General manager Chris Ballard said negotiations with Smith and linebacker Darius Leonard were designed to produce long-term extensions before the start of the 2021 regular season.

“You’re never going to regret paying a great player (laughs),” Ballard said Monday. “I don’t give a crap what position the guy plays.”

Drafted 37th overall as a guard out of Auburn one pick after the Colts selected Leonard, Smith allowed only one quarterback hit and zero sacks in 2020, based on Pro Football Focus film review.

“If you’re naming one of the guys who I think is one of the better right tackles in the league, it’s Braden Smith,” coach Frank Reich said in December. “The way he is playing this year, he is playing lights out. He has been a model of consistency through every game. I’m not sure he’s had a bad day in practice or on Sunday, so the guy is a stud.”

ESPN reported the contract includes $42 million guaranteed.

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith (58) picks up a fumble against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Warrant issued for Seahawks DE Aldon Smith in alleged battery

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Aldon Smith is wanted in an alleged battery in front of a Home Depot in Chalmette, La., according to a warrant from the sheriff’s department.

Smith signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks last week and is wanted for “a second degree battery that occurred on the evening of April 17, 2021 at the French Press Coffee House in front of Home Depot in Chalmette,” per the warrant.

The warrant bulletin requests information from anyone coming in contact with the subject (Smith) and includes a head shot.

“The subject does not have a local address but has relatives in the New Orleans Area. Subject was last observed in a white in color Nissan sedan with an unknown license plate.”

Smith signed a contract with the Seahawks on April 15.

He enjoyed a renaissance with the Cowboys, starting all 16 games and recording five sacks and 14 quarterback hits, 48 tackles and two fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown.

Smith, 31, was the No. 7 overall pick by San Francisco in 2011 and registered 33.5 sacks in his first 32 games with the 49ers, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2012.

However, following a series of arrests and off-field issues, as well as multiple team and league suspensions, Smith was suspended by the NFL in November 2015. He wasn’t reinstated until last May.

Smith has 52.5 sacks and 103 quarterback hits in 75 games (53 starts) with the 49ers (2011-14), Oakland Raiders (2015) and Cowboys.

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and quarterback Dak Prescott (4) watch a pass against the Miami Dolphins at the end of the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys gain $18.9M in OL restructures

Sep 27, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Three of the five starting offensive linemen for the Dallas Cowboys adjusted their contracts to free up a total of $18.975 million on Thursday.

The Cowboys officially restructured the contracts of left tackle Tyron Smith, right tackle La’el Collins and guard Zack Martin, per multiple reports.

The Cowboys were down to around $1 million in available cap prior to the moves, NFL Network reported.

Injuries impacted all three blockers last season.

Smith, who played in only two games, was rumored to be considering retirement, but the Cowboys are planning for his return.

Martin played in 10 games but wound up on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Collins played 15 games last season after starting all 16 his previous two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: QB Alex Smith, Washington Football Team to split

Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith and the Washington Football Team are parting ways this month, NFL Network reported on Monday.

Smith, 36, won the award for top comeback player in 2020 after returning to the field from multiple leg surgeries.

Releasing Smith would cost Washington $8.6 million of his $23.3 million cap hit in 2021.

Per the report, Smith plans to continue playing in the NFL if the opportunity exists.

The revelation comes one week after Smith said he spoiled Washington’s plans by returning to the team last year.

“When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team’s plan,” Smith said in a GQ interview last month. “They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be a part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, the roster, didn’t want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime, they came in, I’m like the leftovers and I’m hurt and I’m this liability. Heck no, they didn’t want me there. At that point, as you can imagine, everything I’d been through, I couldn’t have cared less about all that. Whether you like it or not, I’m giving this a go at this point.”

Smith’s 2020 salary of $16 million was fully guaranteed.

He began the season as Washington’s third-string quarterback. The team turned to Kyle Allen after Dwayne Haskins was ineffective, then released, and Smith took over after Allen suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9.

Smith played in eight regular-season games, starting six, and completed 168 of 252 passes (66.7 percent) for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns. He was unable to play in Washington’s wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a calf injury.

–Field Level Media

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Heisman-winning WR DeVonta Smith skips Senior Bowl measurements

A scale and measuring tape became the big story at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday in Mobile, Ala.

Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith of Alabama, participating in the draft prospect event along with multiple Crimson Tide players, opted not to have official height and weight measurements taken on Tuesday.

Smith, listed at 6-1, 175 pounds on the Alabama roster, said he will wait until the Alabama pro day in March to have those measurements recorded.

Size is the critical question for evaluators attempting to make an appraisal of Smith’s NFL value. He is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2021 draft and is Field Level Media’s top-rated wide receiver.

Smith is not participating in on-field workouts after injuring his pointer finger in the national championship game earlier this month.

Entering the NFL at 170-175 pounds is not unprecedented, and recent examples include Tyreek Hill of the Kansas City Chiefs. But Smith also was clocked at 4.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the South Alabama pro day.

Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior at Alabama. Smith also led the team in receptions last season, when he opted not to enter the 2020 NFL Draft but watched teammates Henry Ruggs (12th overall, Las Vegas Raiders) and Jerry Jeudy (15th, Denver Broncos) be selected in the first round.

One of the NFL’s all-time great wide receivers, Marvin Harrison of the Indianapolis Colts, measured at 6-0, 181 pounds at the Scouting Combine. The 13-year pro was drafted 19th overall in 1996 and elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) talks with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Falcons offer HC job to Arthur Smith

Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith received a formal offer to become head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, according to multiple reports Friday.

Smith was a coveted candidate in the coaching cycle that began churning in early January. He received requests to interview for all seven vacancies, ESPN reported.

The Titans finished fourth in the NFL in scoring at 30.7 points per game and won the AFC South.

Smith has received praise for his work as offensive coordinator since he was promoted from tight ends coach two years ago. Current Titans head coach Mike Vrabel gives Smith credit for turning Ryan Tannehill’s career fortunes around last season, and the Titans just produced a 2,000-yard rusher in Derrick Henry.

The Falcons parted with Dan Quinn during the 2020 season and promoted Raheem Morris to interim head coach.

Myriad issues face the new braintrust of the Falcons, which will include a new general manager. Interviews for both positions took place unilaterally since the season ended.

Atlanta is squeezed against the salary cap by massive contracts for quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones. Owner Arthur Blank said he would not block an attempt by the new regime to trade one or both players in a rebuilding effort.

The Titans reportedly have been anticipating Smith’s departure by reaching out to prominent college offensive coordinators in recent days.

Smith has worked with the Titans in multiple capacities since 2011 under coaches Mike Munchak, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Mularkey and Vrabel.

Smith worked closely with current Packers head coach Matt LaFleur with the Titans and during his initial NFL job, Smith was quality control coach of the Washington Football Team. Joe Gibbs was the head coach of the team in 2007, and Jim Zorn took over in 2008.

Smith, 38, attended the University of North Carolina to play basketball but his career was shortened because of a foot injury. He played offensive line in high school.

–Field Level Media