DeVonta Smith was all over the football field in Week 9. The rookie receiver out of Alabama hauled in a 28-yard game-tying touchdown to cap a banner day – five catches for 116 yards, with a 92.6 grade (via Pro Football Focus).
Smith should have had another touchdown if Jalen Hurts had thrown a better ball in the back of the end zone. Either way, the emerging star proved he can be a No. 1 wideout amid growing concerns about his drops. That wasn’t an issue against Los Angeles. The mature 22-year-old endured a roller-coaster ride of a week following the tragic events surrounding Henry Ruggs, his former college teammate and close friend.
After a 27-24 loss to the Chargers, Smith decided to dedicate his breakout performance to Ruggs in a sentimental Instagram post. He talked about his bond with the troubled receiver who was cut by the Las Vegas Raiders. Ruggs is facing two felony charges after a fatal car crash left one woman dead. Ruggs was driving 156 mph and had a blood alcohol level of .161, according to USA Today.
“First off, my heart breaks for everyone that was involved, the family of the young lady that lost her life,” Smith told reporters. “It was rough at the beginning, but just coming in everyday and getting with the guys, they gathered with me and helped me out a lot. At the beginning of the week, it was tough, but, eventually, the guys helped me get through it.”
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Alabama Family Sticking Together
Smith and Ruggs were teammates for three seasons at Alabama and share a text message chain, along with other former Crimson Tide standouts like Jerry Jeudy and Jaylen Waddle. Smith has cited Ruggs as a key sounding board for his adjustment to NFL life. It’s been really tough to focus throughout the tragedy.
“Once I got on the field, it just went away,” Smith said. “I had a task at hand and had to focus on football, so once I got on the field, it kind of went away.”
Hurts was also a part of that team and threw touchdown passes to Ruggs in 2017 and 2018. No one is defending what Ruggs did but hearts were heavy for “my Alabama brother.”
“Obviously I have a lot of love for DeVonta [Smith]. I love him like a brother,” Hurts said. “I have a lot of love for Henry Ruggs as well. I love him like a brother. My [Alabama] brother. It’s tough for all of us to experience what we experienced this week, how tragic of a situation it was.”
Sirianni Showered with Flower Bouquet
Head coach Nick Sirianni had to be physically restrained after a rowdy Eagles fan threw a flower bouquet at him. The 40-year-old was walking off the field and heading into the tunnel after Sunday’s game when the incident occurred.
He was visibly upset as Dom DiSandro (chief security officer) held him back. The bouquet was an obvious reference to Sirianni’s infamous flower analogy. Several fans in attendance were calling the first-year head coach “Johnny,” an ode to Johnny Appleseed.
“This is what I said to the team today is that I said the results aren’t there right now, but what’s going on here is that there’s growth under the soil,” Sirianni said on October 27. “I put a picture of a flower up, and it’s coming through the ground, and the roots are growing out.”