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mesaSteeler
01-06-2011, 08:09 PM
Steelers report: Inside slant
The Sports Xchange
Jan. 6, 2011
http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/teams/report/PIT/14517519/steelers-report-inside-slant

Defensive end Aaron Smith, who would like to play a few more years, may not play again this season even though Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin has held him on his roster though injured going on three months.

Smith, 34, tore a triceps muscle Oct. 24, underwent surgery and has not yet returned to practice. He has run and lifted weights but it remains uncertain when he will return. The one certain thing is he will not play when the Steelers open their playoffs at home Jan. 15.

If they win, that would leave only the AFC championship game or the Super Bowl left for Smith to play.

Doctors have told the defensive end that he must get stronger before he can begin practicing. Smith has been the Steelers' starting defensive end since 2000 and is so beloved by his teammates and coaches that Tomlin took the unusual step of holding open his roster spot so long.

However, it does not appear there will be as happy an ending as the Steelers originally had hoped for.

"When all the information is in, the ultimate decision is up to me," Smith said. "I'll hear what everyone has to say and see what their verdict is and make an informed decision at that time."

Ziggy Hood, the Steelers' first-round draft choice in 2009, has started all 10 games in Smith's absence and he must be doing something good. Unlike in 2007 when the defense bowed after Smith left with an injury, the Steelers defense has been consistently good, especially against the run. They led the NFL in run defense, allowing just 62.8 yards a game, a team record and third-lowest in the NFL in a 16-game season.

--Despite a mantra from their team president at this time last season to run the ball more effectively, the Pittsburgh Steelers enter the playoffs with the idea that in order to win games and a seventh Lombardi Trophy they will have to pass and play good defense.
(Fire the Airhead now! - mesa)
Their running game did improve slightly, by seven yards a game over last season, but they have been more effective on the ground than they were in 2009. Pittsburgh's strength lies in its No. 2 defense - and in its passing offense.

A cursory look at the stats shows the Steelers rank 14th in the NFL in net passing yards per game, lower even than its No. 11 ranking on the ground. However, they are fifth in yards passing per play and also fifth in lowest interception rate.

Try as they did to become more grounded on offense, the Steelers behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have taken wings again and must do so in the playoffs.

"I think we've made improvements," tight end Heath Miller said of the offense. "Throughout the year, we steadily made improvements throughout the game. I feel good about the way we're playing. I think we're ready to hopefully take care of business."

The reason the Steelers' passing game has improved are threefold: 1, Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games of the season and even when he returned it took some time to rebuild the rapport with him; 2, Rookie receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, who played little at the position in the first half of the season, have matured and risen to being Nos. 3 and 4 receivers, gaining Roethlisberger's trust along the way and 3, Roethlisberger is getting more protection from an offensive line that has settled down a bit from the first-half revolving door because of injuries and a demotion.

In the first half of the season - including four games without Roethlisberger - the Steelers averaged 181.9 net yards passing. In the second half, they have averaged 268.3 net yards passing. That is a significant jump that should figure into their playoff game plan.

Roethlisberger gives credit to his two rookie receivers, plus second-year receiver Mike Wallace for some of the improvement.

"Those guys are good," he said. "You try not to put them in a situation to have to worry about it -- you know, those high balls and balls to the side, stuff like that, those are the ones that usually get tipped and picked. If you can try and put it on them, it usually eliminates that.

"Those guys are doing a good job of running the routes and doing the right things, so it makes it easier for me."

Their passing game might be even better at this point had Roethlisberger not missed the first four games. He still managed 3,200 yards, his fifth straight season over 3,000, extending his team record.

His average is down 22 yards a game from last season, when he set the team record with 4,328 yards in 15 games. But he's been more careful with the ball, as his five interceptions show, not been sacked as often and has been a more effective runner/scrambler.

It all adds up to an offense poised to pass its way through the playoffs.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

Steelers report: Strategy and personnel
The Sports Xchange
Jan. 6, 2011

PLAYER NOTES

--LB LaMarr Woodley had half a sack added to his total by the Elias Sports Bureau, giving him 10 and making him only the second player in team history to record double-digit sacks three straight seasons.

--CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen) did not practice all week and remains the most serious of the team's injured players from last Sunday's game in Cleveland.

--CB Anthony Madison provided some much-needed help for the Steelers special teams this season and when he got a chance on defense in Cleveland, he stepped up and starred. Madison, playing as the nickel back, had his first interception and his first sack of the season. His 22 tackles led the Steelers' special teams.

--K Shaun Suisham, signed after the ninth game of the season, finished with 14 field goals in 15 tries compared to Jeff Reed, who was 15 of 22 before he was released.

--S Troy Polamalu, a candidate for the NFL's defensive player of the year, led all players in jersey sales (No. 43) last season, according to NFLShop.com. Polamalu was elected to start in the Pro Bowl and voted by his teammates as Steelers MVP.

Polamalu tied his career-high with seven interceptions this season, the most by a Pittsburgh player in 15 years. Polamalu's 27 career interceptions are 10th most in club history.

--WR Mike Wallace averaged 21.0 yards per catch to lead the AFC. Last season, he led the NFL with 19.4 yards on average as a rookie.

--RB Isaac Redman, who finished second on the team with 247 yards rushing in his second season, was the only back to catch a touchdown pass. He caught two.

--WR Antwaan Randle El completed his only two pass attempts this season, both for touchdowns. In his career, he has completed 22 of 27 passes for 323 yards, six scores and no interceptions. His passer rating is 156.1.

--RB Rashard Mendenhall ran for 100 yards just three times this past season, but his 1,273 yards rushing are seventh-most in one Steelers season.

INJURY IMPACT
DE Aaron Smith (torn triceps) still has not practiced and is unlikely to play in the first playoff game ... CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen) has not practiced and his status is unknown for the game. If he cannot play, William Gay would start at LCB and Anthony Madison would serve as the nickel back.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

Steelers report: Notes, quotes
The Sports Xchange
Jan. 6, 2011

--For the first time since the 1970 merger, five different Steelers completed at least two passes - Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich and Antwaan Randle El. (That would make a good Steelers trivia question. - mesa)

--There are reports that Roethlisberger became engaged over Christmas to a Pittsburgh area young woman, Ashley Harlan of New Castle, Pa. The quarterback would not confirm it when asked.

He said, "Oh, geez. Listen, there's always rumors out there about professional athletes, especially about me. You guys know that I am not going to talk about my own personal life, I don't do that. My one singular focus right now is on the playoffs, on football and trying to get to the Super Bowl."

--Heinz Field is getting a new grass surface for the third time this season, courtesy of the National Hockey League. The NHL is paying the $100,000 bill for new sod to replace the old after hockey's Winter Classic was played at Heinz Field, ruining the previous sod that hosted only three football games - it was installed after Thanksgiving.

The Steelers will play on the new surface Jan. 15 when they open the playoffs. Had they not made the playoffs, the field would not have been re-sodded until the spring.

BY THE NUMBERS
20 - Division championships (AFC Central/North) the Steelers have won since the 1970 NFL merger, most in the league. They have won three in Mike Tomlin's four seasons as their coach.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"Maybe it's just lucky, maybe it's just not taking too many of the crazy chances I took before." - QB Ben Roethlisberger, who threw a career-low five interceptions, none in his past 158 passes.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

Fire Haley
01-06-2011, 08:16 PM
Aaron Smith with one arm is better than Ziggy with two.

Strap him up and put him in coach

sarahpalinhater
01-06-2011, 08:45 PM
Aaron Smith with one arm is better than Ziggy with two.

Strap him up and put him in coach



That's a ridiculous statement. I love Aaron as much as anyone. But it's time to IR him, and maybe put Dwyer on the squad. Or add another D-Linemen, and place Moore on the Deactivated list and activate Dwyer :applaudit:

steeltheone
01-06-2011, 09:32 PM
Aaron Smith with one arm is better than Ziggy with two.

Strap him up and put him in coach

And people wonder why i say OVERRATED!

davidtrout
01-06-2011, 09:32 PM
That's a ridiculous statement. I love Aaron as much as anyone. But it's time to IR him, and maybe put Dwyer on the squad. Or add another D-Linemen, and place Moore on the Deactivated list and activate Dwyer :applaudit:

Right, because Dwyer has proven himself to be.......well, nothing. Not knocking the kid but I don't get what you could have seen from him to so adamantly want him on the gameday roster.

Any chance to have Aaron back trumps all other possibilities. Unless it's determined he cannot return, our best bet is to leave an open spot for him.

Merchant
01-07-2011, 12:07 AM
Imagine Smith returns for the Super Bowl and makes a game-winning play.. what a moment that would be..

Riddle_Of_Steel
01-07-2011, 12:34 AM
Imagine Smith returns for the Super Bowl and makes a game-winning play.. what a moment that would be..

Folks, we gotta be honest with ourselves.

Even if Aaron Smith were to rush it and return (best case scenario) for the divisional game, he will have to return to form from:

* Not played a single down of football, at practice speed or otherwise, in over two months.
* Probably not working out that arm much until his rehab started until recently.
* I don't see him doing much else in the way of excercise with his arm in a splint/cast the last couple months.

At this point, what we have to realize is that, most likely:

Healthy Ziggy Hood > A Not-So-Healthy-Yet Aaron Smith

Ziggy might be our best option for the remainder of this season. If Aaron can come back next year, I am all for having the guy around for as many years as he wants to give us, but we cannot expect him to go out there in a couple weeks and be in postseason form after how long an off period he has had.

tony hipchest
01-07-2011, 01:48 AM
Any chance to have Aaron back trumps all other possibilities. Unless it's determined he cannot return, our best bet is to leave an open spot for him.

:yep:

and even if he didnt start, im sure he would be willing to give it a go if hood or brett went down.