While his legal issues remain unresolved at the moment, the Seahawks should expect to have Aldon Smith on the field when training camp opens on Wednesday.
According to ESPN reporter Brady Henderson, Smith has worked his way back into shape after being excused from mandatory minicamp in June and is "ready to go," though it remains unclear how much he will participate in to start. At the time of the camp last month, coach Pete Carroll indicated he was working out at the team facility but wasn't physically ready for practice yet.
Back in April, the Seahawks signed the 33-year old Smith to a one-year contract hoping to further bolster their pass rush. The veteran defender capped off a remarkable comeback with the Cowboys last season, returning from a four-year hiatus while serving an indefinite suspension to produce 48 tackles, 5.0 sacks, and 14 quarterback hits in 16 starts. He also returned a fumble 72 yards for a touchdown.
Unfortunately, just when it looked as if Smith had put his troubled past behind him, reports of a warrant for his arrest in Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish on second degree battery charges went viral on social media.
The incident in question happened two days after Smith visited the Seahawks at their team facility in Renton and signed his new contract. Deputies responded to a call seeking medical assistance around 7:30 PM and upon arrival, the bulletin from the Criminal Investigations Bureau said, “they came into contact with a male victim who said he was assaulted by an acquaintance of his” outside of a coffee shop in Chalmette, a suburb of New Orleans. They promptly identified Smith as the prime suspect.
Smith allegedly "choked a victim unconscious" and according to WDSU-TV, the sheriff's office has video evidence and the station quoted Sheriff James Pohlmann as saying Smith caused "severe injuries" during the incident.
Two days after the warrant was released, Smith turned himself in and eventually was released on bail. He was scheduled for arraignment earlier this month, but according to a spokesperson with the St. Bernard Parish Clerk of Court's office, the proceeding has been postponed until August 24.
Since that time, Smith has been in Seattle working his way back into shape and the Seahawks have maintained consistent communication with the player in the event he would be able to play for them this fall. As they did with cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who was facing armed robbery charges in Florida last summer, the organization has opted to see how his legal situation plays out.
Though there appeared to be evidence linking Dunbar to the crime, charges were ultimately dropped and he was removed from the commissioner's exempt list early in training camp, allowing him to join the team. The Seahawks are hoping Smith's case unfolds in similar fashion and he can compete for playing time as a rotational rusher at the LEO defensive end spot.
For now, Smith hasn't been punished by the NFL and will be eligible to practice for the Seahawks starting with Wednesday's first camp session. Depending on his condition, the team may opt to ease him back into action during the first several practices. As for the regular season, more clarity on his status should arrive next month following his arraignment in Louisiana.