Devonta Smith made his NFL preseason debut on Thursday night after missing the Hawks’ first game with a knee injury last week.
For the 10th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, this is not a perfect debut. His coach Nick Siriani thought the rookie looked “a bit irritable” in the first quarter.
“He lost a few balls, and it was a little late for his eyes to stare at Joe’s deep ball. [Flacco] Threw him away,” Sirianni told reporters After the game. “This is the situation with young players. They have to play. They have to go through some ups and downs.”
In other words, Sirianni was impressed with one aspect of Smith’s game: his route.
“He ran a good route on the return route on the third descent,” he said. “I think he also ran several other good routes.”
Smith did an excellent job in this regard. He got a lot of separation in his first reception at the beginning of the second quarter. This allows him to catch the ball after it has been received.
Soon after, the return route mentioned by Sirianni appeared. Smith played to his best in the game against Patriots cornerback Michael Jackson and once again found his vacancy. He easily picked up the first one down.
Smith finished the game with these two catches and 19 yards. Although Sirianni was very impressed with the reception, but most importantly, he was very happy that Smith was on the court.
“I’m very happy that he got there and was able to play a wonderful and meaningful first half in the first half and hit a few times and had to fight some close reports,” Sirianni said.
Smith responded to his coach’s point of view. He just had a great time.
“It feels good to go out and just go back there and be at your best,” Smith said. “It’s just my routine before the game or something. Go back there, back to myself.”
How did Smith’s injured knee feel after the game?
“I feel good,” Smith said. “I have been attacking my rehabilitation center. Now, I feel good.”