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mesaSteeler
10-18-2009, 12:17 AM
Steelers Notebook: Smith's absence hurts run defense
Saturday, October 17, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09290/1006266-66.stm

How important is defensive end Aaron Smith to the Steelers' defense?

The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 23 consecutive regular-season games (27 counting postseason), the second-longest streak in the National Football League behind the Minnesota Vikings (28).

The Baltimore Ravens had the longest streak (39 games) until Cincinnati's Cedric Benson rushed for 120 yards last week in the Bengals' 17-14 victory.

The Steelers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Jacksonville's Fred Taylor rushed for 147 yards Dec. 14, 2007, which also was the first game the Steelers played without Smith after he sustained a season-ending torn bicep injury.

They played three more without Smith that season and allowed opponents to rush for an average of 157.2 yards per game in that four-game span.

They will play their first game of the 2009 season without him tomorrow against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Smith was placed on injured reserve earlier this week and had surgery yesterday to repair a torn rotator cuff.

"He's the best technician I've seen," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "We've never seen him out of position, never seen him out-leveraged, and that's hard to say for defensive lineman. He's always in the right place. I've never seen him yelled at by coaches."
No. 4 receiver

Coach Mike Tomlin said the other day he will decide on a game-to-game basis which player will be his fourth receiver -- Limas Sweed or Shaun McDonald -- and apparently that is the case.

After dressing for the game last week in Detroit, Sweed likely will be deactivated for the Browns and McDonald will be the No. 4 receiver tomorrow.

The reason: The Browns play a lot of man-to-man coverage in the secondary, and the Steelers think McDonald will match up better against that scheme because he runs sharper, crisper routes.
Passing fancy

Santonio Holmes, who played at Ohio State, always has had big games against the Browns, even though he never watched their games or rooted for them in college.

In six career games against Cleveland, Holmes has 23 catches for 392 yards and two touchdowns.

The Browns have allowed 15 passes of 20 yards or longer this season, in part because they like to use their cornerbacks, Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald, in press coverage to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage.

"That's been their tendencies," Holmes said. "That's what they live and die by, and that's what they going to run with."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09290/1006266-66.stm#ixzz0UG2Zv5GH