View Full Version : Steelers' schedule tougher minus Smith

10-14-2009, 09:37 PM
Steelers' schedule tougher minus Smith
By Brian Herman
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thinking out loud:

* Remember that easy schedule the Pittsburgh Steelers were supposed to have this season?

It doesn't look that soft today following the news yesterday that defensive end Aaron Smith is headed to the sidelines with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and his campaign may be over.

You know what happened when Troy Polamalu got hurt in the opening win over Tennessee. In the first two games without him, the Steelers' defense disappeared in the fourth quarter in Chicago and Cincinnati and the defending Super Bowl champs came home with frustrating three-point defeats to the Bears and Bengals.

Even without Smith up front, the Steelers should have enough to handle the Cleveland Browns, whose offense ranks among the NFL's weakest.

After that, however, may be another story.

The next three games on the Steelers' menu are Minnesota, Denver and Cincinnati.

The Vikings and Broncos are both unbeaten and the Bengals' lone loss was to Denver, 12-7, in the opener when Brandon Stokley caught a tipped pass and raced 87 yards for a touchdown with 11 seconds left.

The second half of the schedule has the Steelers facing Baltimore twice with the regular season finale Jan. 3 in Miami against Joey Porter and company.

Getting back to Smith, the last time he went out with an injury in 2007 the Steelers went 1-3 and gave up almost 28 points a game.

There's definitely a big dropoff when it comes to his three replacements, Travis Kirschke, Nick Eason and No. 1 draft pick Ziggy Hood.

The 35-year-old Kirschke has been plagued by back problems, while Eason was good enough to start only three games in three years in Cleveland after spending his rookie season in Denver on the injured reserve list with an Achilles injury suffered in training camp. He's in his third year with the Steelers.

Hood could be the answer, but coach Mike Tomlin feels the 22-year-old isn't ready yet.

The Steelers' defense has already given up 55 points in the fourth quarter, which is a far cry from a year ago when they allowed 75 the entire season.

Brian Herman can be reached at bherman@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

10-15-2009, 06:39 AM
I wonder if stating that "Hood isn't ready yet" publicly, is Tomlin's way of motivating Hood.

10-15-2009, 07:11 AM
The Steelers signed DT Ra'Shon Harris yesterday............CHAMPIONSHIP !!