Raiders' Sean Smith, from starting cornerback to nickel linebacker?

NAPA, Calif. -- For the third consecutive day, high-priced veteran cornerback Sean Smith was a second-stringer for the Oakland Raiders, supplanted by TJ Carrie at right corner.

That was the case at corner even in the nickel defense, with Carrie on the outside and undrafted rookie Breon Borders in the slot.

But Smith, who signed a four-year, $38 million free-agent contract with Oakland last year, got a different look on Sunday. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was in the Raiders’ first-team nickel defense but as a linebacker.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was asked if Smith was handling his role well.

“Yeah, I think he is,” Del Rio said. “Obviously, everybody wants to be the guy and we love that. We love that about our guys. We also understand that there is a certain amount of competition that is going to take place out here.

“I am a big believer in ‘you get what you earn.’”

Smith has not been available for comment.

“We’re going to have a competitive camp, and I told the guys when we opened, ‘I don’t care how you got here. It doesn’t really matter if you’re undrafted, a high pick, a low pick or if you weren’t picked or if you’re a veteran,’” Del Rio said.

“Certainly a veteran, we’ve seen a certain amount before, but still, we want to make it competitive. We want to make it real. We want to make the competition real. That’s what we’re having.”

In position drills, Smith is still going second behind David Amerson and ahead of Carrie.

But Antonio Hamilton and Dexter McDonald have also flashed, and Kenneth Durden had a spirited one-on-one battle with receiver Michael Crabtree on Sunday.

“We’re rolling them through,” Del Rio said of his cornerbacks. “We’re looking for the kind of effort and intensity and play that we want to see on the field. I feel like we’re showing flashes of getting that. It’s coming. As a group, we’re giving a lot of guys opportunities, and so I think it’s a healthy situation.

“A few guys are banged up and on the mend, like I said, but the guys that are out there working are working hard and making improvement.”

Del Rio was hesitant to single out Smith, who is entering his ninth NFL season.

“What we want to see from all of our guys is to come out every day with positive energy and a great desire to get better and just work at it,” Del Rio said.

“Everybody is basically in the same boat in terms of what we’re looking for, the standard that we have, the way we want to practice, the effort, the energy, the attention to detail, the focus, all of those things is what we’re looking for from everybody. I wouldn’t make it about any one guy, I really wouldn’t. I know you guys are asking a specific question about a specific guy, but I’m trying to tell you generally, that’s how we do it here.”