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83-Steelers-43
12-13-2006, 06:10 AM
Smith's prowess doesn't surprise teammates

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The Steelers suspected rookie safety Anthony Smith was ready to become a force in their secondary.
His performance in his first career start last week against Cleveland confirmed it.

"That boy's a player," linebacker Larry Foote said of Smith following the Steelers' 27-7 thumping of the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 7. "I can't wait to see when he blossoms into knowing the defense because he's going to be a great player in this league.

"It's a credit to (director of football operations) Kevin (Colbert) getting Anthony Smith in this year's draft."

Smith was credited with just two tackles against the Browns, but he also registered a pair of passes defensed on bone-jarring, ball-separating, blow-up shots on wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Darnell Dinkins. Smith also collected his first career interception.

His night would have been perfect had Smith not missed a tackle on Edwards on what turned into a shutout-spoiling, 45-yard touchdown reception with 5:20 remaining.

Still, Smith will take it.

"I had a pretty solid performance on special teams and on defense," said Smith, the Steelers' No. 3a selection in April. "I had a pretty solid game."

Smith and veteran Tyrone Carter replaced free safety Ryan Clark (groin) and strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee) against Cleveland.

Clark is listed as questionable and Polamalu doubtful for Sunday's game at Carolina.

"It's not different than in that past when we've had guys go down and other guys have come in; that's what we do," linebacker James Farrior said. "We're pretty much playing the same defense."

Carter started for Polamalu on Dec. 3 against Tampa Bay.

Smith replaced Clark midway through the Steelers' 20-3 victory over the Buccaneers.

Prior to that game, Smith had played almost exclusively on special teams. His only previous extended experience on defense occurred Nov. 12 against New Orleans, after the Steelers lost Polamalu to a concussion.

Smith played in six-defensive backs sets against the Saints and was shaky initially before steadying himself late in the game.

He played with confidence against Cleveland and turned into a difference-maker.

"I was comfortable," Smith said. "I went out there to make plays, not to mess up. I had a good week of practice and I went out there with confidence and played hard. After the first couple of plays, it was all good."

Except for the fourth-quarter completion Edwards turned into a TD.

"I took a bad angle and really didn't get to wrap him up like I wanted to," Smith said of the missed tackle-turned-touchdown.

"I wish I could have made it, but that's part of the game. It happens."

Secondary shuffle

The Steelers haven't started the same combination in the defensive backfield from one week to the next since their games Nov. 5 against Denver and Nov. 12 against New Orleans. The quartet against the Saints was comprised of Ike Taylor at left cornerback, Deshea Townsend at right cornerback, Troy Polamalu at strong safety and Ryan Clark at free safety. Since then, the Steelers have changed the lineup in the secondary four times in four games due to either injuries or coaching decisions:

Date, opponent LCB RCB SS FS
Nov. 19
Cleveland Taylor McFadden Polamalu Clark
Nov. 26
Baltimore Townsend McFadden Polamalu Clark
Dec. 3
Tampa Bay McFadden Townsend Carter Clark
Dec. 7
Cleveland McFadden Townsend Carter Smith

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_483887.html

Infamix
12-13-2006, 08:37 AM
Nice read, and yes Smith will be really good once he learns the defense more.

BigDuke6
12-13-2006, 10:57 AM
Nice read, and yes Smith will be really good once he learns the defense more.

I love this kids game so far. He has come in and played with fire and passion. Something sorely lacking from Clarks game this year. Smith brings the wood and thats exactly what we needed from that pos.

Atlanta Dan
12-13-2006, 11:20 AM
I think Clark has been a good FA signing, but it is always good to see what younger players can do. Smith looks good as a potential future starter.

Too bad Cowher will only give players such as Smith, McFadden, Holmes & Washington a look at starting due to injuries.

With the season having been over for playoff purposes since probably early November and certainly since the Ravens game, I would have liked to see what Okobi & Simmons could do at center, start holding auditions to replace Max Starks and, now that he has healed up, rotate Harrison with Haggans & Porter at OLB.

memphissteelergirl
12-13-2006, 11:32 AM
I think there's gonna be some serious competition in training camp next year among the defensive secondary players, which is good...motivates them to step up their game if they want a starting spot.

Fire Haley
12-13-2006, 11:43 AM
Somehow I knew this wasn't going to be about Marvel.

BigDuke6
12-13-2006, 02:44 PM
Somehow I knew this wasn't going to be about Marvel.

LMAO

stlrtruck
12-13-2006, 03:00 PM
I just hope they let him play the game the way he's playing it now. If they try to limit him, it could ruin is instincts!
I like what I see so far, I just hope he doesn't get a big head about it.

SteelerFanInCA
12-13-2006, 03:19 PM
Smith is awesome. I think he has a bright future with us. I have to agree with the take on Starks. That guy needs to go. How does a man that big get beat so often? :dang: