The first tangible side effect of losing all-world defensive end J.J. Watt is filling his roster spot (notice it doesn’t say filling his shoes, because no one can do that). Houston Texans’ brass reportedly re-signed former Texans lineman Antonio Smith on Tuesday night to a one-year deal.
Texans signed DL Antonio Smith to one-year deal per source.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 28, 2016
Smith, fresh off his Super Bowl campaign with the Denver Broncos, played for the Houston Texans during the Gary Kubiak/Wade Phillips era from 2009-2013.
A fan favorite while with Houston, Smith played 94 games, amassed 112 solo tackles, 27 sacks and seven forced fumbles. While that won’t replace J.J. Watt’s production, it will help as long as the rest of the defense can step up.
Last year was the first since his rookie campaign where Smith failed to start a game, as he had trouble cracking Denver’s stellar front seven, but he did play situationally, contributing 2.5 sacks to the eventual champions’ 2015 season.
Smith turns 35 on October 21st. While many expected he would retire this year, the loss of J.J. Watt has opened the door for the Ninja Assassin to strike once again.
While no one can take the place of the best defensive player in the NFL, bringing in a former player who knows the Texans’ locker room, has performed at a high level in the league, and carries the smell of Super Bowl victory on him is far from the worst decision Houston general manager Rick Smith could have made in light of the nightmarish situation.
It remains to be seen if Smith will be ready to contribute this weekend when the Tennessee Titans come to town, but you can bet their was much rejoicing in Nashville when the Titans learned of the loss of Watt. Will Smith be able to make them pay for that? Only time will tell.
What do you think of this return of the Ninja? Let us know in the comments below.