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mesaSteeler
02-02-2011, 06:21 AM
Steelers' Smith, Pouncey approach status differently
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey answers a question during media day for Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Standing on the field at Cowboys Stadium, surrounded by the dizzying madness that is Super Bowl XLV Media Day, Aaron Smith talked about disappointment and sensibility and sounded like a player who will not face the Green Bay Packers.

Which he won't.

Not far away, Maurkice Pouncey was positioned in the lower-level seats of the staggering $1.3 billion facility, wearing a protective boot on his left ankle and sounding very much like a player who optimistically is hoping to compete in the Super Bowl.

Which he won't.

"It's looking real good, on the positive side right now," said Pouncey, the rookie Pro Bowl center, making his first public comments since he sustained a high-ankle sprain and a broken bone in his left ankle in the AFC championship game.

"I'm trying to play, to tell you the truth," he said. "I'm going to get on a bike today and I might do little pool action. I'll see how it feels. If I wake up in the morning and I'm like, man, something ain't right, then it isn't looking too good. But I'm pretty sure it won't "

Despite his boundless optimism, Pouncey will not play against the Packers, even though coach Mike Tomlin has not publicly made an official announcement. The same is true with Smith, who, like Pouncey, has not been officially declared out of the Super Bowl.

Several sources told the Post-Gazette Monday that both players will not play against the Packers. And, after a one-on-one interview Tuesday with Smith, there is little doubt about the possibility.

Asked if he is disappointed, Smith said, "Really, I'm past all that. I have my moments here and there, but I always wake up and look forward to the next day. I've been through enough, seen enough, that the disappointment isn't the end-all for me. There's always the next day."

For the past three weeks, Smith has joined his teammates for the conditioning and stretching part of practice. But, once they begin team drills, he goes to the sideline and watches.

Being at the Super Bowl, standing in his uniform on the same stadium floor where the game will be contested, going through all the pregame festivities, has not made it any easier, Smith said.

"It makes it harder, sitting in the hotel, thinking about watching the game. I can't do anything but fantasize about playing. I think about this, think about that, what I would do in this situation. So, it doesn't get easier."

The Steelers do not want to take a chance that Smith, who has not played since he tore the triceps tendon in his left arm in Week 6, could re-injure himself against the Packers, setting back his rehabilitation even further into the offseason.

The Steelers think Smith, 33, can play at least two more years, although this is the third time in the past four years an injury has not allowed him to finish the season.

"I think I easily have two more years at this point," Smith said. "Let's say I played [in the Super Bowl]. Let's say we knew there was a 90 percent chance I would do something. What's the point of suiting up if all you're going to do ... if I go out there and tear [the triceps tendon], then you're down one man who can help you. What are the risks vs. the rewards? And what am I getting out of it?

"The main focus is to put the most able-body guys who are able to play and contribute in this game. That's what we're here for."

Several players have said Tomlin would not allow Smith to be in uniform for the game, even if he could not play, because he would be wasting one of the 45 game-day roster spots. And Smith said he would not want to be in uniform under those circumstances.

Smith already has won two Super Bowl rings in his 12-year career. He is so beloved the team kept a roster spot open for him, despite his injury, hoping to give him a chance to play in the Super Bowl -- much like the team did with cornerback Rod Woodson in the 1995 season.

But that situation was a little different. Woodson was in his ninth season and never had been to the Super Bowl.

"I would be lying if I said I didn't think that -- what if I never had been to a Super Bowl?" Smith said. "My selfish needs, I would say do it. But I've been blessed. I've won two."
Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11033/1122263-66.stm#ixzz1CnsAaHuO