Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins resumed his protest against social inequality by raising his fist during the national anthem prior to Thursday's preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jenkins was joined on the sideline by cornerback De'Vante Bausby, who also raised a fist. Eagles defensive end Chris Long put his arm around Jenkins in a sign of support -- just like he did last season.
"I just think it's important to keep this conversation going, that we don't let it get stagnant," Jenkins told reporters after the game. "You know, as we understand it, everybody's kind of waiting to see what the league is going to do. ... It's just my personal decision to keep these things at the forefront."
In addition to Jenkins, Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson took a knee during the anthem. Miami defensive end Robert Quinn raised a fist into the air. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin also raised a fist into the air before his team's game against the Dallas Cowboys.
"This is not going to become a distraction for this team," Smith said. "I've got beliefs. I did what I did. I don't know if it's going to be every week; can't answer if it's going to be every week. But, as a man, I've got to stand for something. I love my team; I'm dedicated to my teammates and that's what we're talking about. I did what I did; it was love. I hope people see it and respect it. I respect views."
The NFL released the following statement regarding Thursday's protests, reiterating that implementation of the league's national anthem policy remains on hold amid ongoing discussions with the NFL Players Association:
"The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans. While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.
"Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL's policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.
"We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities."
Jenkins is among the players who've embraced leading roles in combating social inequality since Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a knee during a 2016 preseason game. In an interview with NFL Network's Michael Silver earlier this week, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers urged players to ignore President Donald Trump's comments on the issue and explained the motivations behind the protests.
"I don't know how many times we can say, as a player and as a group, how much we love and support and appreciate the troops, and the opportunities this country allows us. But this is about equality and something bigger than ourselves, and bringing people together, and love and connectedness and equality and social justice, and putting a light on people who deserve to have the attention for their causes and their difficult situations that they're in. You know, people have their opinion -- you shouldn't do it during the anthem, you shouldn't do it during this -- that's fine. But let's not take away from what the real issue is."