Smith totaled 35 tackles (28 solo), including two for loss, one fumble recovery and one interception over 16 games during the 2016 season.
The veteran tackling machine posted what was easily his lowest total of stops of any season in which he'd played at least 14 games. Smith held down the starting strongside linebacker job throughout the duration of the campaign, but the drop in his production was especially notable considering he was coming off the three most prolific seasons of his career from a tackles perspective. New defensive coordinator Mike Smith's scheme, which Smith had played in for four seasons (2004-07) in Jacksonville, seemed to funnel a great deal of the action to MLB Kwon Alexander, who posted 145 tackles. The 13-year pro notably wasn't the only established linebacker on the Bucs to see a precipitous drop in his numbers -- Lavonte David's 87 tackles also represented a low-water mark for him -- so the downturn likely wasn't exclusively age-related. However, Smith is now an unrestricted free agent, and given his largely disappointing season, the Bucs would currently appear unlikely to bring him back into the fold for 2017.
Smith tallied a season high in tackles while also getting into the sack and interception columns for the first time in 2016 as well. The 14-year veteran has not been quite able to post the type of prolific tackle numbers that he's become known for throughout his career and is currently on pace for a low-water mark in stops for a full season.
The veteran linebacker will miss his second consecutive preseason game Friday as he recovers from an undisclosed ailment. Both Smith and Devante Bond (hamstring) are sitting out Friday, so Josh Keyes figures to see plenty of snaps at strongside backer against Cleveland.
Smith (undisclosed) sat out another practice on Wednesday, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
There continues to be no official explanation for the veteran linebacker's absence, which is now at a full week and included last Saturday's preseason contest versus the Jaguars. Smith is presumably not in any danger of missing regular season time, although without any exact details on the injury, it's impossible to determine a timetable for return. At minimum, his chances of playing in Friday's tilt against the Browns appear dim at this stage.
Smith (undisclosed) is not in uniform for Saturday's preseason affair with the Jaguars, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Smith was a late scratch Saturday and it's not clear why as of right now. A high-volume tackler, Smith has been a clear-cut starter in this league for 13 seasons. While it makes sense to speculate that the Buccaneers could be giving Smith the game off to rest, nothing is certain until an official word is given.
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||35||28.0||7||0||1||-5||-5.0||-5||0||1|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|
|2016||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||0|