ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Sean Smith paused, then repeated the question.
How would I judge this season so far?
After all, the cornerback, who joined the Oakland Raiders on a four-year, $38 million free-agent contract in 2016, has lost his starting job to TJ Carrie and is facing legal trouble off the field.
And yet ...
Smith has pleaded not guilty to felony assault charges after allegedly beating his sister's boyfriend in a July 4 incident in Pasadena, California. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said in training camp that Smith was defending his sister.
And after he nearly fell completely off the Raiders' depth chart, injuries at cornerback have necessitated his play, and Smith has responded.
So, how would Smith judge this season, with its ups and (mostly) downs?
"Definitely a learning experience," Smith said with a knowing grin after the Raiders' 27-24 win at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday night.
"But for me, I just take it one day at a time. I come to work with a smile on my face and just work. You have to move on to the next. Whether that be the next play, the next day, the next year. I mean, you just keep moving forward. You can't dwell on the past or if something's not going well for you, you don't even think about it. Just have that 'next play' mentality in everything you do. For me personally, whatever happens that day, you just move on to the next day with a smile on your face and have that same approach and be a professional and it's going to be all right."
His play was more than all right in Miami.
Smith, who played 53 of 67 snaps, was targeted only two times by Jay Cutler, giving up only a 6-yard reception. And with about nine minutes left in the game, with the Raiders clinging to a 20-16 lead, Cutler unleashed a deep throw down the left sideline from his own 35-yard line to DeVante Parker. Smith was in coverage and broke up the ball easily.
His celebration seemed to bury a season's worth of frustration, after his disbelief that Cutler tested him subsided.
"Parker is a very great receiver," Smith said. "He's a big-play guy, so I can see why [Cutler] would give his guy a shot.
"But on the defense side, I was already playing off[-coverage] and I'm just like, 'He's going to try me, of all people.' I was surprised, but I was happy he did it."
And the Raiders were no doubt happy Smith made the play.