RENTON, WA - After a turbulent offseason, Aldon Smith has finally suited up for the Seahawks. Smith, in full uniform, roamed the practice fields of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center as training camp kicked off Wednesday, participating in drills with his fellow pass rushers and defensive linemen without a hitch.
However, as the team prepares for the upcoming NFL season, Smith's availability is still very much up in the air.
Just days after signing a one-year contract with the Seahawks, the former top-10 selection had a warrant issued for his arrest in the St. Bernard Parish of Chalmette, Louisiana after getting into a physical altercation outside of a local coffee shop. Smith subsequently turned himself in two days later, on April 21, and was eventually released on bail with an arraignment initially set for July 14.
Since then, New Orleans-based network WDSU-TV reported that the sheriff's office possesses video evidence of Smith causing "severe injuries" to the victim who, per the Criminal Investigations Bureau, claimed to be an acquaintance of Smith's. Once the July 14 date came and went, no updates were given on the arraignment or if it even took place. Eventually, it was reported the proceeding had been postponed to a later date of August 24.
As Seattle waits to see how the situation plays out, Smith has spent the rest of his offseason in the Pacific Northwest. Though he didn't make an appearance at the team's voluntary OTAs and mandatory minicamp, he continued to work his way into football shape while maintaining a line of communication with the Seahawks.
"He's worked really hard here throughout the summer," head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Wednesday. "I didn't think it was time for him back in the springtime, just 'cause we didn't know of the body of work coming in. But he's in really good shape now, worked really hard to get here and excited to see what he looks like."
Free to practice with the team for the time being, one could argue the delay of Smith's arraignment complicates things even further. The start-and-stop cycle of his offseason may continue if the arraignment is held as scheduled, just four days prior to the Seahawks' final preseason game, forcing them to stay on their toes as they whittle down their roster to 53 players. However, Carroll isn't concerned with how that could potentially impact the team's handling of the situation.
"It's not difficult," Carroll explained. "There's no difficulty to it at all. We just take the turns when we have the opportunity."
Carroll could not confirm the new arraignment date and says there's been no indication that Smith will be placed on the commissioner's exempt list until his legal matter comes to a resolution.
So for now, Smith is full-go to compete in a deep, overhauled group of pass rushers. Because of the depth at LEO defensive end, some have speculated he could be a dark horse to vie for the team's opening at strongside (SAM) linebacker, which has been left vacant by free agent K.J. Wright.
But the Seahawks remain committed to 2020 second-round pick Darrell Taylor to take on those responsibilities. And on Wednesday, Carroll acknowledged Smith's versatility and history as a linebacker but ultimately seems keen on utilizing him on the interior and exterior of the defensive line.
"He's an edge guy," Carroll confirmed. "He's always been an edge guy, and he's been an outside backer and an outside rusher throughout his career. Last year, he did a lot of rushing inside—as an inside guy—to complement [the Cowboys'] packages and stuff and he looked very good there, very effective."
With Dallas last year, Smith lined up as an interior defensive lineman on 83 snaps. Rotating in at a few different spots, the Missouri alum finished the year with 48 combined tackles, 5.0 sacks and 20 pressures on 785 snaps in total.
"So the point is: he's versatile," Carroll continued. "He can do a lot of stuff and he's a really bright kid, picks things up really fast. So we're anxious to see it fits. Right now, we're just gonna put him in the normal spots that he's played in the past and learn him and see how it all fits with the rest of the fellas."