HOUSTON — Aaron Smith is one of the Steelers I’m looking forward to seeing today against the Texans.
The veteran defensive end has drawn the wrath of fans — and become an unlikely symbol of what ails a defense that is giving up close to 100 rushing yards per game.
Smith, one of the best 3-4 defensive ends of his generation, pushed back a little last week. One of the most accessible and down to earth players in the Steelers locker room, Smith seemed to take umbrage at any inferences that, at the age of 35 and coming off a third major injury in the last four years, he is in decline.
“I don’t think the coaches would leave me in there just to leave me in there,” Smith said. “I think every week I’ve gotten better and better. I feel as good as a 35-year-old playing football can probably feel. I don’t feel 25. That would be ridiculous.”
Smith said the Steelers have not been “gap sound” through the first three weeks.
That is another way of saying that players are trying to do too much at times and not taking care of their responsibilities — and trusting those around them to do the same.
Smith also said that it is too early to draw any sweeping conclusions about the Steelers, and their defense in particular.
“I remember when we started 2-6 (in 2006) and people thought we were done then,” the 13th-year veteran said. “I’ve been in probably every possible situation you can be in.”
Except maybe this one — when questions have been raised about his play.
— Scott Brown