Philadelphia Eagles: Disregard DeVonta Smith’s preseason stat line

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

DeVonta Smith‘s first game with the Philadelphia Eagles is officially in the books.

Though it took a week longer than many expected, as Smith was sidelined for the preseason debut versus the Pittsburgh Steelers due to an ACL sprain injury, Smith finally donned the number 6 jersey and took to Lincoln Financial Field for his first taste of NFL action.

Did Smith show out in midnight green? No… but honestly, who cares?

With Jalen Hurts and a number of other first-teamers out of the game, I wouldn’t be too worried about Smith’s not-so-impressive stat line.

DeVonta Smith showed good separation in his Philadelphia Eagles debut.

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In the NFL, players are seldom truly open.

Sure, occasionally, you’ll get a totally botched defensive coverage or engineer an open look via expert scheming, but in a typical NFL game, you’ll seldom see wide receivers running free like they do in college once they make it to the game’s highest level, as the defensive players are getting paid too.

So when a player like DeVonta Smith is able to consistently separate with defensive backs tasked with locking him down, it’s going to turn some heads.

In the first half, Smith was targeted four times – five of you count an incomplete non-play that was wiped from the books by a rushing the passer call on Chase Winovich. He had a bad drop on his first target from Joe Flacco across the middle and recorded another incompletion on the first play of the second quarter but from that point on – save the aforementioned penalty on Winovich – Smith was locked in, catching his final two targets for 19 yards including a nice 10 yard gain on a 3rd-and-4 conversion.

If you only watched those four/five plays, you’d probably give Smith a passing grade in his preseason debut. Not like an A+ or even an A- but surely something in the C+ to  B- range, maybe a straight-up B if you take the external factors into consideration.

Fortunately, Smith didn’t just run those five routes during his preseason debut. No, he actually took the field for the vast majority of the team’s first-half snaps and was an engaged performer even when the ball didn’t go his way.

Heck, Smith even attempted to get in on the action in the running game, which wasn’t particularly impactful considering the team again heavily favored the run over the pass, but it signified a willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team win, even in contests where the longest run of the first half was for 10 yards.

And best of all, when the Eagles‘ preseason crew kicked it to the sidelines to show some b-roll of the team’s 2021 first-round pick, what was Smith up to? Yeah, he was going over plays and continuing to work on his game.

Between you and me, I think Smitty is going to be just fine.

Next. Sure, trade Andre Dillard, but for what?. dark

Will some take umbrage with DeVonta Smith’s play/usage in his preseason debut? Most definitely, as New York Giants fans are still incredibly bitter over the Philadelphia Eagles leapfrogging their favorite team to snag the NCAA all-timer 10th overall and will even suggest that he looks “unhappy” in pictures to try to stir the pot. Don’t pay those people any mind. While 19 yards on two catches isn’t something to write home about, Smith put enough good stuff on tape to prove he’s going to be special in a midnight green uniform for a very long time.