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hawaiiansteel
08-02-2011, 06:16 PM
Time may not be on Steelers' Smith's side

Tue Aug 2, 2011.
By Mike Bires

http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/timesonline.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/89/f8928937-414c-5852-afae-92561b37d6e4/4e3751f791a1e.preview-300.jpg

Aaron Smith takes his helmet off for a moment during Steelers Training Camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.

?LATROBE — The other day at camp, the NFL’s best set of defensive ends waited for their turn to take the field.

Standing side-by-side: Cameron Heyward, the rookie first-round draft pick; Ziggy Hood, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft; Brett Keisel, a Pro Bowler last year; and Aaron Smith, the fourth-oldest player on the team who for years has been regarded as one of the most underrated defensive ends in the league.

“That’s a blessing to have four guys like that on your team,” defensive coordinator D!ck LeBeau said. “Those are some very good athletes right here. There will be plenty of (playing) time for all of them. It’s not a problem at all.”

Smith, 35, can only hope he doesn’t have any problems in his 13th season with the Steelers. For seven years (2000-06) when he was in his prime, Smith was a consistent force on the Steelers’ defensive line. He never missed a game during that stretch. But in three of the past four seasons, he’s missed 26 regular-season games due to knee, biceps, triceps and rotator cuff injuries.

Two years ago, he missed 11 games. Last year he missed 10, plus three playoff games due to a torn triceps muscle.

So considering his age and injuries, there’s been speculation about his status with the Steelers. Some wonder if he might be cut due to salary cap concerns. Some wonder if Smith will be asked to re-negotiate his contract. He’s due to make $4.5 million this season. Some wonder if Smith will be a backup now that Hood is entering his third season.

After all, Hood played well last year when taking over for Smith. There’s no reason to believe Hood won’t soon be the Steelers’ next all-star defensive end.

“Not me,” Smith said, when asked if he’d be upset if Hood started in front of him. “I’m about winning football games, and if they feel someone else can get the job done better, then by all means let it happen. I’ll do whatever it takes to help us win.”

As far as Smith restructuring his current contract: “We can talk about it if that situation comes up,” he said. “But I haven’t heard anything yet.”

That may change in the next few days as the Steelers continue to work to get below the $120 million salary cap. Director of football operations Kevin Colbert said there could some more cuts; veterans Max Starks, Flozell Adams and Antwaan Randle El have already been axed. Colbert also said some players will have to restructure contracts.

For now, though, Smith is at his customary spot as the starting left D-end. He says his triceps has healed. He’s in good shape. And he never considered retiring.

“I feel great, but we really won’t know until we play football,” he said.

“I’m still on the first-team defense until they tell me otherwise. I’m just going to keep on doing what I’ve always done. I don’t think I’ll ever quit. I love playing this game and I’ll keep on playing it until they tell me I can’t play it anymore.”

http://www.timesonline.com/sports/steel ... 323f8.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/steelers/time-may-not-be-on-steelers-smith-s-side/article_b5a86da3-98fe-5710-9957-0f7bbd0323f8.html)

DukieBoy
08-02-2011, 06:32 PM
What a great Steeler Aaron Smith has been. Here's hoping he has a couple of great years yet ahead, and goes out on top and on his own terms.