The purge of the Cleveland Browns defensive line depth continued on Tuesday, with the team parting ways with defensive end Chris Smith.
It was a bad sign for Smith that he was inactive during Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, and the team chose to go another direction soon after. Smith played in nine games this season, but registered just one tackle. He played 149 snaps, roughly 20 percent of the defensive plays. Smith also saw some time on special teams.
Smith, a former fifth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014, played in all 16 games last season with the Browns, starting two. He collected 21 tackles and a sack.
Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com initially reported the move by the Browns.
Browns Helped Chris Smith Get Through Challenging Time
Smith had been dealing with the tragic death of his girlfriend Petara Cordero, who was struck and killed by a driver on the highway in September after a tire on his Lamborghini reportedly blew out and hit a median. The couple had a newborn daughter, Haven Harris Smith, who was just a month old at the time of the accident.
Being with the team had help Smith get through the loss.
“I’m doing good, I’m better than I was,” Smith told cleveland.com in November. “I’ve gotten used to the new normal. I think that’s from being around my teammates, my family. Football’s helped me so much.”
Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens commended Smith for how he battled through the grief.
“I think anytime something like that happens in life … it takes something from him emotionally and mentally,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “I think Chris did a good job of fighting through some of those emotions and from a mental standpoint. It is never easy when you start talking about things like that. Every day is hard. He has done a much better job of compartmentalizing and understanding he has to just stay in the moment.”
However, Kitchens stressed that he wanted to see more consistency out of Smith in a bigger role.
“Chris’ effort is very good,” Kitchens said. “His attention to detail needs to be better. His assignments need to be better. I think sometimes you do not find out about guys until they are thrust into action with a more prominent role, and we will find out.”
Browns Defensive Line Depth Dwindling
The Browns depth on the defensive line will be tested the rest of the season.
The team parted ways with defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence last week and traded defensive end Genard Avery to the Eagles in October. Pro Bowler Myles Garrett is suspended for the season for his role in a fight with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, while Olivier Vernon has been dealing with a knee injury. Vernon returned after a three-game absence last week, but was seen limping off the field in the first half.
Second-year defensive end Chad Thomas — who has started four games — and new faces Bryan Cox and Porter Gustin will be relied on to fill the holes.