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Aldon Smith expected to be reinstated in March

Barring any future incidents from pass rusher Aldon Smith, the Raiders' defense is about to get a whole lot better in March.

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, that is the expected reinstatement timetable for the former first-round pick, who had 33.5 sacks over his first two seasons before a bevy of off-the-field incidents chipped away at his playing time.

Smith is currently serving a year-long ban for violating the league's policy on substances of abuse. He applied for reinstatement back in late October, but that decision was deferred by the NFL in December.

For any Raiders fan dreaming of a Clowney/Watt effect with Smith and Khalil Mack crashing off the edges, be warned: This is a scenario with plenty of caveats. Is Oakland's defense just another speed rusher away from greatness? Has Smith kept in pristine shape during his time off? Will he mesh with the current Raiders staff?

It's impossible to ignore Smith's incredible talent, which is why the Raiders took a chance on him after repeated issues. Will their patience end up paying off?

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