Essendon said they opted to give Smith, who won the best-and-fairest in his first year after crossing from GWS, a break as part of the management of a knee complaint.
“‘Dev’ is managing a chronic knee problem that he arrived with,” coach John Worsfold told the club’s website.
“We just feel that this is an opportunity now with where we are at within the season and what we’ve got coming up, we’ll make sure he’s up and going and playing his best footy throughout the whole year.”
Richmond, on the back of last week’s backs-against-the-wall victory over Port Adelaide, are strengthened by the much-awaited return of Houli while Dustin Martin also returns after serving a one-match suspension. They have dropped both Jack Graham and Connor Menadue for Saturday night’s clash against Sydney at Marvel Stadium.
The Swans have swung two changes of their own, bringing in Ryan Clarke and James Rowbottom, while leaving out Justin McInerney and Nick Blakey.
Melbourne picked Lewis for his first game of 2019 for the suddenly dangerous Saturday twilight clash against St Kilda at the MCG. The Demons opted to drop Oscar McDonald and Billy Stretch to make way for Jetta and former Hawk Lewis.
St Kilda picked captain Jarryn Geary – a surprise absentee against Hawthorn last week – and Steven, who played the opening two games of the season after managing mental health issues revealed during the pre-season. They lost Daniel McKenzie to injury and dropped Hunter Clark.
Carlton big man Matthew Kreuzer is a big chance to return against the Bulldogs at Marvel S
tadium on Sunday. The ruckman was one of five inclusions to their squad along with Cameron Polson, Jack Silvagni, Matthew Kennedy and Angus Schumacher. Will Setterfield (suspension) is their only confirmed omission.
The Bulldogs confirmed they will hand debuts to two first-year draftees in midfielder Will Hayes and defender Lachie Young.
Along with Hayes and Young, Bailey Williams, Jackson Trengove, Patrick Lipinski, Roarke Smith and Lin Jong were added to their squad.
At Adelaide, Hugh Greenwood was named to return along with former Blue Gibbs.
Also on Thursday, Essendon placed Kobe Mutch on the long-term injury list and upgraded rookie Ben McNiece as his replacement.
Scott Spits is a sports reporter for The Age