TAMPA — The most experienced — and currently most maligned — member of the Bucs’ patchwork starting offensive line on Friday seemed to attribute some external factors to his recent performance.
Eighth-year left tackle Donovan Smith, whose five holding penalties in 10 games already have tied the season-high for his career, said he’s dealing with some “personal” matters but wouldn’t elaborate.
“Playing the game of football the best way that I know how,” Smith told reporters following Friday’s practice at AdventHealth Training Center. “I’m dealing with some things, that’s the way it goes.”
“Personal,” Smith said before a reporter could finish a follow-up question. “I don’t feel like sharing it with the world.”
He also wouldn’t indicate whether his recent performance is related to the hyperextended elbow he suffered in the season opener that sidelined him for two games. “Even if it was (injury-related), I still wouldn’t share it,” Smith said.
“At this time of year, nobody’s healthy. I’m going through things, other people are going through things, everybody’s going through some stuff.”
In the first season of a two-year, $31 million contract extension he signed two springs ago, Smith has surrendered six sacks this season and has been flagged four times (twice for holding) in the last two games. His 53.8 offensive rating by Pro Football Focus — currently 70th among NFL tackles — is the worst of his career.
Two weekends ago, his third-and-4 penalty for illegal use of the hands in overtime at Cleveland negated Tom Brady’s 10-yard pass to Rachaad White. The drive fizzled and the Browns won, 23-17.
On Monday night, he was whistled for holding on each of the Bucs’ two touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter. The first was rendered moot when Mike Evans drew a pass-interference whistle in the end zone on the next play, setting up the first touchdown in a 17-16 come-from-behind triumph.
“It’s a concern,” head coach Todd Bowles said Wednesday. “He knows he didn’t play his best game (Monday), we know he didn’t play his best game. He’ll bounce back from it, he understands that. We expect more from him, and he expects more from himself.”
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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