Smith will start at cornerback in Week 13 against the Panthers, with Brent Grimes (knee), Carlton Davis (knee) and M.J. Stewart (foot) all inactive, Scott Smith of the team's official site reports. The Buccaneers will be extremely short-handed in an already vulnerable secondary Sunday, but at least Smith isn't devoid of experience. The 2016 fourth-round pick has seen action in 40 games overall in his first three seasons and logged multiple starts in 2017 when both Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves were sidelined with shoulder and hamstring injuries, respectively. Smith will look to help contain a Cam Newton-led Panthers passing attack that gets Devin Funchess (back) back from a one-game absence Sunday.
Smith posted six solo tackles in the Buccaneers' 34-29 loss to the Falcons on Sunday. Smith filled in for Carlton Davis (groin) against the Falcons' high-powered passing attack and unsurprisingly had an active afternoon. Matt Ryan was able to rack up 354 passing yards and three touchdowns, however, with Smith missing the tackle that allowed Austin Hooper to notch one of those scores. If Davis' injury lingers into Week 7, Smith likely figures to be in line for another start versus a more manageable but still solid Browns passing attack.
Smith totaled four solo tackles, defensed a pass, and recovered a fumble during the Buccaneers' 48-40 win over the Saints in Week 1. Smith ultimately logged 44 snaps on defense and 17 additional on special teams on a very busy afternoon. The 25-year-old could have plenty of similar weeks ahead of him in the immediate future if starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves' shoulder injury is as serious as feared. The 2016 fourth-round pick proved to be a solid tackler from the cornerback position last season -- registering 62 stops (51 solo) while also forcing three fumbles and recovering one over 15 games -- while also defending five passes, so there could be some deep-league IDP value there if he's in for a multi-week stint as a starter.
Smith was credited with seven tackles (five solo), an interception and a forced fumble in the Buccaneers' 26-24 preseason win over the Dolphins on Thursday. Smith was frequently picked on throughout the game, but he was able to come through when it counted most. The third-year corner intercepted a Bryce Petty pass with two seconds remaining, sealing the win for the Buccaneers. He'd also been credited with a forced fumble when Dolphins rookie running back Kalen Ballage attempted to hurdle him after a short reception early in the second quarter. After seeing extensive time in Thursday's game, Smith projects for another heavy workload in Saturday's exhibition tilt versus the Titans due to the absence of Vernon Hargreaves (groin).
Smith (ankle) was a full participant at the Buccaneers' practice Thursday, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Smith was inactive for last Sunday's loss to the Panthers and started the week as a limited participant. Friday's practice session should provide further clarity, but at this point the 24-year-old appears on track to be available for the regular-season finale against the Saints.