GLENDALE, Ariz. –
A neck injury, not the sprained foot he sustained three weeks ago, is what ended Aaron Smith’s season.
The Steelers placed Smith on injured reserve Saturday, and coach Mike Tomlin is expected to address Smith’s latest injury after today’s game.
Smith has probably played his last game for the Steelers given his age (35) and his contract situation (he is in the last year of a five-year deal that he signed in 2007).
Smith may well retire on his own, given that he has suffered a season-ending injury for the fourth time in the last five years.
If he does return to the Steelers it will likely be in a limited role since Ziggy Hood, 24, is a former first-round pick and is noticeably more comfortable at left defensive end -– where Smith had been entrenched since becoming a starter in 2000.
If Smith has played his last game for the Steelers, he should be remembered for being as good a guy off the field as he was on it.
There is not a more down to earth player in the Steelers’ locker room, and Smith’s philosophy when it comes to dealing with others is simple: treat them the way he would want to be treated.
His play on the field has been exemplary if overshadowed by players at glamour positions on the Steelers’ defense.
But here is all you need to know about Smith’s value to the Steelers: Tomlin held a roster spot open for the 13th-year veteran for almost two-thirds of the 2010 season because there was a slight chance that Smith might return for the playoffs or only the Super Bowl.
That is what you call respect.
– Scott Brown