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View Full Version : Smith is blossoming as Steelers free safety


lamberts-lost-tooth
12-23-2006, 05:07 AM
Saturday, December 23, 2006
By Colin Dunlap, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

He sat in the corner of the Steelers' locker room on the South Side, in a silent moment devoid of much movement and any talk.

His demeanor before practice was as straightforward and no-frills as his name -- Anthony Smith.

And, as the commonplace banter and shenanigans swirled around him, Smith sat on a stool, speaking just above a whisper.

"I always had a dream of playing in the NFL," said the rookie free safety who was drafted in the third round from Syracuse.

"To be honest, you don't want to be that guy sitting around and not playing all that much, no matter what level it is. I told myself, 'If I didn't start, I was going to work hard and wait my turn.' But, I was going to come here and give it all I have on every snap and see what happened."

What has happened was that Smith --one of three Steelers starters with that surname -- has catapulted to an unexpected place.

The divisional showdown at Heinz Field tomorrow against AFC North leader Baltimore (11-3) will mark Smith's third consecutive start, no small feat for a rookie safety.

The fact is Smith realized an opportunity and ran with it

Ryan Clark started the first 12 games at free safety, but sustained a groin injury in the Dec. 3 win against Tampa Bay. Clark missed the next game at home against Cleveland on that bitingly cold night, giving Smith his first career start. Until then, Smith had been relegated to some dime-coverage action and had proven to be a solid performer on special teams.

Last week at Carolina, Smith started again, even though Clark was reactivated, and tomorrow, when the Ravens visit, Smith will be running with the first defense because Clark again is hampered by the injury and will not dress.

With his two interceptions in the past two games, Smith has forced coach Bill Cowher to take notice.

"He's gotten better, there is no question," Cowher said of Smith, whose Hubbard, Ohio, hometown is about an hour from Heinz Field. "I think Anthony was ready, has done a very good job, particularly in the last month. ... He's felt comfortable back there [in the secondary] and he's made some plays for us."

In addition to his physical talents and knack of seeing things before they fully develop, Smith also has won his teammates' trust.

"It is way more complex here," Pro Bowl strong safety Troy Polamalu said of the Steelers' defense.

"Some organizations run just three defenses where we may run 30 different defenses in a game. To adjust to that and have the responsibility of learning all of that is a difficult task, and Anthony has shown that he's able to grasp it."

Seventh-year safety Tyrone Carter agreed.

"His development has really come on this year," Carter said. "But we kind of expected it. We knew he had what it takes to be a great player for us."

There was, though, that one transgression last week in Charlotte when Smith picked off a pass and engaged in a high-step show.

That drew defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's ire and Cowher's disdain.

Chalk it up to a moment of poor judgment, a lesson learned.

"Players like it," Smith said with a chuckle before turning serious. "The coaches, though, they don't. That right there, what I did, is not the image of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everyone told me just to calm down a little bit, and I realized my mistake."

But his mistakes have been few and far between of late.

"Anthony is very observant," Polamalu said. "He is very humble in the fact that he is willing to learn from other players. He is who he is as a safety and is very talented. He can be a great and he's already proven to be a great safety. He should even continue to improve."

That is exactly what the Steelers are counting on.

SteelersWoman
12-23-2006, 07:12 AM
Two games...two INTs...let's hope the trend continues! :D

HometownGal
12-23-2006, 08:02 AM
This young man is on his way to becoming a kick-ass corner for the black'n gold! :tt02: He got his chance and he is running with it - literally. Here's to the trend continuing against the Rats tomorrow, Anthony! :cheers:

touchdownward
12-23-2006, 08:03 AM
Sounds like a different side of the man that most of you were so "disturbed" about a couple of days ago. :wink02:

floodcitygirl
12-23-2006, 09:25 AM
Sounds like a different side of the man that most of you were so "disturbed" about a couple of days ago. :wink02: It does sound like a different side...people have more than one. Here's to him catching the ball and running with it until the play is over. Good job Anthony! Let's see it tomorrow! :tt02:

stillers4me
12-23-2006, 09:31 AM
I have no doubt about his talent.......CJ is a talented player, too. Just make the plays and celebrate, afterward Anthony.....not during!!! If Troy trusts you.....well 'nuff said. Welcome to the Steelers, young man!

SteelCityMan786
12-23-2006, 10:24 AM
Two games...two INTs...let's hope the trend continues! :D

Amen to that!

steelerbackr4life
12-23-2006, 10:34 AM
Thats good to read ! Heres to continuing his great play against the Ratbirds tomorrow!
:tt02: :tt02: :tt02: :tt02: :tt02:

Kermit
12-23-2006, 11:01 AM
Holmes has impressed me over the last few weeks, but Smith is (in my opinion) our best draft pick this year -- he made plays back in the preseason, and he's making them now.

Nice guy, too. I look forward to seeing him in black and gold for a long time to come.

NV STEELERS 723
12-23-2006, 11:54 AM
I have no doubt about his talent.......CJ is a talented player, too. Just make the plays and celebrate, afterward Anthony.....not during!!! If Troy trusts you.....well 'nuff said. Welcome to the Steelers, young man!

Thats huge when Troy talks about him ...just save the dancing until after the final score!

SteelCzar76
12-23-2006, 12:10 PM
Whoa,....what happened ? I thought most were "peering down your nose's" inspecting him (Smith) for fleas after his celebrating last week ? LOL
I thought such self righteousness was made of stronger stuff ?




"Hail Caesar,.....HAIL THE BLACK AND GOLD"

stillers4me
12-23-2006, 12:16 PM
Whoa,....what happened ? I thought most were "peering down your nose's" inspecting him (Smith) for fleas after his celebrating last week ? LOL
I thought such self righteousness was made of stronger stuff ?




"Hail Caesar,.....HAIL THE BLACK AND GOLD"

If you read my original post regarding the subject, I gave him a pass this time. I think he's going to a valuable asset (he already is proving that). I just don't like the pre-planning ala Ocho Cinco for further shenanigans he was talking about. Just keep playing smart football and have some Steeleresque class about it......after the play.

SteelCzar76
12-23-2006, 12:37 PM
If you read my original post regarding the subject, I gave him a pass this time. I think he's going to a valuable asset (he already is proving that). I just don't like the pre-planning ala Ocho Cinco for further shenanigans he was talking about. Just keep playing smart football and have some Steeleresque class about it......after the play.



Somehow i don't think Smith is going to turn out to be anywhere near as "over the top" as 8-5. And in regards to "Class"....well....i think that's a matter or perspective. (Like most things in life)
But hey,... that's just my humble opinion Ma :smile:



"Hail Caesar,.....HAIL THE BLACK AND GOLD"

BigDuke6
12-23-2006, 01:35 PM
Whoa,....what happened ? I thought most were "peering down your nose's" inspecting him (Smith) for fleas after his celebrating last week ? LOL
I thought such self righteousness was made of stronger stuff ?




"Hail Caesar,.....HAIL THE BLACK AND GOLD"

I gave him a pass as well preferring to chalk it up as "unbridled enthusiasm". Ive also been high on this guy since he stepped in and stepped up. Ive been quite critical of Ryan Clark's play this year as he seems too tentative and we need a guy who steps up and actually tries to "make a play". Smith has done just that so far this year.