Steelers' Aaron Smith on injured reserve, ending season
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith takes a break between workouts during training camp this summer at St Vincent College, Latrobe, PA.
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Steelers placed veteran defensive end Aaron Smith on injured reserve Saturday, ending his season and perhaps his long, illustrious football career.
It is the third consecutive year in which Smith, 35, did not make it halfway through the season.
He did not play the past two games because of a foot injury. The Steelers signed undrafted rookie defensive end Corbin Bryant from their practice squad to take Smith's place on the 53-man roster before they left Pittsburgh.
Bryant will be active today against the Arizona Cardinals, giving them five healthy defensive linemen. They usually play with six, but, along with Smith, nose tackles Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke are injured and will not play.
Ziggy Hood will make his third consecutive start at left end for Smith and fifth this season. Bryant is 6 feet 4, 300 pounds and played at Northwestern.
Smith's previous two seasons were cut nearly as short. He played in five games in 2009 and six in '10 because of a torn rotator cuff and a torn triceps. There was some speculation that this could be his final year even before his latest injury.
The Steelers drafted two defensive ends in the first round in the past three seasons, Hood in '09 and Cameron Heyward this year.
Smith was a fourth-round draft choice in 1999 from Division II Northern Colorado. He moved into the starting lineup in 2000 and was an ironman of sorts until the spate of injuries began two years ago.
He has been called their best 3-4 defensive end in the 30 years the Steelers have run that alignment as their base defense.
What made him so good was his strength against the run and his ability to push his blocker back to help break down the pocket when the quarterback dropped back to pass.
He had 44 sacks in his career but often led the team in quarterback hurries. He had 11 tackles and four quarterback hurries in his four games this season.
Smith started 152 games in his career and played in 160.
First Published October 22, 2011 3:39 pm