Tag:Aaron Smith
Posted on: January 23, 2011 1:27 pm
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Hot Routes 1.23.11: De Smith will fight you



Posted by Josh Katzowitz


  • Here’s an interesting feature in the NY Times on NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. He doesn’t mind taking on a fight apparently.
  • Pro Football Talk thinks Steelers owner Dan Rooney NEEDS to be involved in the labor negotiations.

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Posted on: January 18, 2011 8:29 pm
 

Steelers could be getting Aaron Smith back

Posted by Andy Benoit
A. Smith
The Steelers could be getting back the player everyone inside the organization says is the team’s defensive MVP. Defensive end Aaron Smith is returning to practice this week. The 12-year pro has been out since tearing his triceps Oct. 24 at Miami.

Mike Tomlin was vague about Smith’s chances to play against the Jets on Sunday, saying, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Aaron Smith is going to practice this week. We'll see where that practice takes us.” Tomlin intimidated that if Smith did take the field Sunday, it would be on a limited basis.

Smith’s value rests in the fact the he’s a dominant backside run defender and one of the best anchoring outside blocker-eaters in the NFL. That said, the Steelers, owners of the No. 1 ranked defense in football, have been just fine without Smith. Part of the reason why is that Smith’s replacement, 2009 first-round pick Ziggy Hood, has shown consistent improvement throughout the season.

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Posted on: January 5, 2011 2:32 pm
 

Hot Routes 1.5.10: The mic is hot!



Posted by Josh Katzowitz
  • If football fanatics like Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden think a football game is running a bit long, chances are it’s taking forever. Check out this video from the Orange Bowl when the MNF team discuss how long the game took.
  • Looks like some of the Jets players are going to need a refresher course on the NFL playoff overtime rules system.
  • It sounds like Giants coach Tom Coughlin doesn’t hate the media quite as much as he used to hate us. With an appearance by CBSSports.com’s own Pete Prisco.
  • Matt Millen feels good for John Elway. And he has some advice for how to navigate the world of an NFL team’s front office.
  • How brutal is this? UFL players, according to Pro Football Talk, are still waiting to receive their final paycheck of the year. If you’ll recall the UFL championship game was played at the end of November.

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Posted on: January 1, 2011 11:48 am
 

Injury Report analysis Part I

Posted by Andy Benoit

Because a handful of teams have nothing to play for in Week 17, deciphering the injury report can be a very inexact – and, frankly, pointless – science. Thus, we’ll only bother analyzing the injury reports from games that carry playoff implications.

Bengals @ Ravens

Chad Ochocinco is once again out with an ankle. Have we already seen his last game as a Bengal? TE Jermaine Gresham is doubtful with a knee. Cornerback Jonathan Joseph, who has missed five games this season, is fighting an ankle.

The Ravens will be without LB Tavares Gooden (shoulder). Gooden is a nice athlete with iffy on-field awareness. TE Todd Heap is questionable with a thigh injury; fortunately Baltimore has plenty of depth at his position.

Steelers @ Browns

Pittsburgh has been hoping all season that DE Aaron Smith can return from his October triceps injury. He has resumed workouts but isn’t ready to play in Week 17. A win would give the Steelers a bye and, ostensibly, a greater chance at getting Smith on the field in their first playoff game. Same concept applies to SS Troy Polamalu, who has missed the past few weeks with an Achilles injury. Polamalu may actually not need the bye, though. He was a full participant in practice this week and is listed as questionable.

Browns RB Peyton Hillis did not practice and is questionable with a ribs injury. DL Shaun Rogers has missed the last two games and is questionable with an ankle. DE Kenyon Coleman is also questionable (kM. Jones-Drew (US Presswire)nee).

Jaguars @ Texans

This injury report might as well read “Jacksonville’s playoff hopes tarnished”. QB David Garrard is out for the season after surgery to repair ligament damage in his right middle finger. RB Maurice Jones-Drew is once again on the shelf with a knee. He’ll need surgery after the season, as well. TE Zach Miller is out with a concussion. SS Courtney Green continues to be hampered by a shoulder. The Jags D has been gashed with Green’s backup, Sean Considine, filling in.

Fantasy owners take note: the Texans will be without superstar WR Andre Johnson.

Titans @ Colts

Tennessee’s entire roster is questionable with a heart issue. Aside from that, everyone is healthy.

Injuries have defined Indy’s season. The only major change on the injury front this week is that LB Clint Session (elbow) might finally return.

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Posted on: November 27, 2010 11:43 am
 

Week 12 injury news and analysis, part I

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Jaguars at Giants

Two of Jacksonville’s most important offensive players, WR Mike Sims-Walker and RB Maurice Jones-Drew, are questionable because of an ankle and an abdomen, respectively. Sims-Walker didn’t play last week because of his high ankle sprain, so it’s a bit surprising that he practiced at all this week (high ankle sprains tend to keep players out at least three to four weeks). Sims-Walker was limited Thursday and Friday, which tells us one of two things – either he’s an unbelievably fast healer or coach Jack Del Rio is using a bit of gamesmanship to keep New York guessing.

Jones-Drew has been on fire recently – he’s accumulated 368 yards and three touchdowns in his past three games (he’s also added 123 receiving yards) – and he’s more likely to play than not. If not, look for Rashad Jennings to get more opportunities.

Though he’s been awfully entertaining on his Twitter account since he was admitted to the hospital with back pain (he was released from the hospital Saturday morning), New York G Shawn Andrews is doubtful (Will Beatty will take his place). CB Will Blackmon is questionable with a chest injury.

Steelers at Bills


Once again, LB Shawne Merriman (who still hasn’t played a game since signing with Buffalo) is out with an Achilles tendon injury. RB C.J. Spiller is questionable, but considering Fred Jackson (249 yards, three touchdowns) has been so good the past two games, Spiller’s absence shouldn’t have a huge impact on the offense (special teams might be a different story, though). The team doesn’t want to play Spiller until he’s 100 percent healthy, which he almost surely is not.

Pittsburgh only has four players on the injury report – WR Antonio Brown and DE Aaron Smith are out, TE Matt Spaeth (concussion) is doubtful and S Troy Polamalu (ankle) is questionable. Polamalu most likely will play. He played last week despite the injury, and the Steelers plan was to rest him early in the week and let him play Sunday (he was limited Wednesday and Thursday but had full participation in practice Friday).

Titans at Texans

If you formed a flag football team just out of the players that are listed as probable on Houston’s injury report, you’d have a pretty good chance to win an intramural title. Those players include QB Matt Schaub, WR Andre Johnson, LB Brian Cushing and DE Mario Williams. Unfortunately for your beer-league dream team, all will be playing NFL football Sunday.

For Tennessee, Randy Moss still isn’t listed on the injury report, which confuses me. If he’s active and playing, how come nobody is throwing him the ball? If he was hurt, then it would make sense. Speaking of players who don’t throw the ball to Moss, backup QB Kerry Collins – who will be the starter once again at some point – is questionable. But rookie Rusty Smith still is slated to the start at QB.

Also for the Titans, DT Jason Jones is questionable with a knee injury. DT Tony Brown (knee) also is questionable, but he’s more likely to play.

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Posted on: November 19, 2010 10:49 am
Edited on: November 19, 2010 10:58 am
 

Week 11 Key Matchup: Raiders-Steelers on ground

Posted by Andy Benoit

If you’re a fan of smashmouth football, you’re salivating at this Sunday’s showdown between the second-ranked Raiders run offense and the first-ranked Steelers run defense. Oakland’s suddenly effective ground game has been one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this season. Darren McFadden, once a raw, oft-injured first-round bust has blossomed into a bona fide feature back. McFadden leads the league with 108.1 yards per game on the ground, and he’s amongst the league leaders in yards after contact. Bruising backup Michael Bush is also chipping in 46.3 yards per game. D. McFadden (US Presswire)Pittsburgh D (US Presswire)

McFadden’s success on the ground has come primarily on tosses and off-tackle runs (i.e. outside). The Raiders have utilized more six-man lines this season, and the athleticism of rookie left tackle Jared Veldheer has allowed for more movement-based concepts to be incorporated into the run-blocking scheme.

This is particularly noteworthy for Sunday because, as important as nose tackle Casey Hampton and strong safety Troy Polamalu are, the key to Pittsburgh’s run defense has always been the defensive ends. (This is one of the best kept secrets in football, by the way.)

While most 3-4 defenses prefer space-eating anchors at end, the Steelers have always relied on undersized but athletic chaos creators. Instead of commanding double teams on the edge through sheer power, the Steelers aim to command doubles through lateral movement. Essentially, if an end can be disruptive going east and west, he’s going to force the offensive tackle AND either the guard or tight end to engage.

This uncommon approach naturally breaks down a blocking scheme. When a 3-4 end simply holds ground, he’s reacting to an offense. By getting movement on the outside, the Steeler ends force offenses to react to THEM. Thus, the three Steeler defensive linemen dictate the terms of engagement against the five offensive linemen. Three on five? If that battle simply results in a draw, the Steelers win, as the numbers mismatch frees up the linebackers and safeties to play in downhill attack mode.

Of course, getting movement as a 3-4 end is not easy to do – if it were, every team would follow Pittsburgh’s blueprint. The Steelers have been fortunate to have two perfect veteran ends for their scheme: Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith (it’s not just lip service when Steelers coaches and players claim Smith is the defense’s most valuable player).

Problem is, Keisel and Smith are both out Sunday (Keisel is not yet ready to return from a bad hamstring; Smith is doubtful for the remainder of the season with a torn triceps). Recent first-round pick Ziggy Hood has shown flashes, but he’s an inconsistent starter at this point. And, by most accounts, journeyman Nick Eason was been ho-hum filling in at the other end position.

As effective as McFadden and Bush have been, a full-strength Steelers D-line would have little problem stifling Oakland’s rushing attack. But a depleted Steelers D-line levels the playing field. This is what makes Sunday’s matchup so intriguing.

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Posted on: November 6, 2010 11:50 pm
 

Week 9 injury report analysis Part IV

Posted by Andy Benoit

Colts @ Eagles
D. Jackson (US Presswire)
These days, it’s almost easier to list which Colts players are NOT injured. Actually, there’s only one that needs to be mentioned: Peyton Manning. He’s fine, so the Colts are fine.

Though if you MUST know more details, Anthony Gonzalez went on IR with a knee, but Austin Collie (finger) could be back this week, so it’s all a wash. Joseph Addai (shoulder) is doubtful; Mike Hart is unavaila nble after not practicing on a bad ankle all week. Cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Justin Tryon did not practice either, due to foot injuries (or would it be feet injury?). LB Clint Session, who deserves serious Pro Bowl consideration, was hoping he could fight through a dislocated elbow and fractured forearm, but he’s out Sunday.

The Eagles have Michael Vick 100 percent healthy now that his rib injury has healed. The hope is that Vick’s favorite target, DeSean Jackson, will be able to return from his Week 6 concussion. Jackson practiced and is probable. LT King Dunlap is out with a knee, but fortunately, the man Dunlap was filling in for, Jason Peters, is back from his own knee injury. No Ellis Hobbs (hip) for Philly, which is crucial because he has always killed the Colts as a return man.

Chiefs @ Raiders

Dexter McCluster was limited in practice for the Chiefs with a high ankle sprain. The rookie did not play last week and it would probably behoove the team to be safe and sit him one more game.

Speaking of ankle sprains, Raiders superstar Nnamdi Asomugha has one. He sat out practice all week and is doubtful. It’s actually amazing Asomugha’s status is even that hopeful; on Monday, speculation was he’d miss about a month. Tight end Zach Miller was on crutches during the week and is doubtful (i.e. 99 percent certain to be out) with a foot injury.

Wideouts Louis Murphy (chest) and Chaz Schilens (knee) remain sidelined. Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski’s shoulder is still not 100 percent, which is why Jason Campbell gets the nod. Most people believe the hot-handed Campbell should keep the job anyway. This gives us a chance to pass along this tidbit from Mike Tanier, arguably the funniest football expert in the biz:

“Of course, leave it to Oakland to get stage fright after a two-game winning streak: the team was considering benching Jason Campbell in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, generating a quarterback controversy for its own sake. The Raiders ultimately decided to go with Campbell, but have said Gradkowski will return as the starter when healthy. With decisions like these, they’ll be back to punchline status by Thanksgiving.”


Cowboys @ Packers

Does anyone care who plays and doesn’t play for the Cowboys at this point? (Included in that “anyone” are the 53 Cowboys themselves.) Out of principle, we’re going to skip right ahead to the Packers.

For only the second time in a little over six years, the Packers will take the field without wide receiver Donald Driver. The veteran was ineffective the past two games trying to fight through a quad injury. Defensive lineman Ryan Pickett will once again test his injured ankle. RT Mark Tauscher remains questionable with a shoulder injury (first-round rookie Bryan Bulaga has started in place of him the past four weeks). Both starting linemen on the left side, T Chad Clifton (hamstring) and G Daryn Colledge (back), are probable. Despite constantly battling for his job, Colledge actually has a 72-game consecutive starts streak that he’s continuing to build on.

Steelers @ Bengals

DE Aaron Smith (out, triceps) is the only Steeler listed on the injury report. The Bengals’ injury report reads like the first string of the defensive depth chart. S Roy Williams, CB Johnathan Joseph, DT Tank Johnson, LB Keith Rivers, S Chinedum Ndukwe, DE Jonathan Fanene and DE Frostee Rucker are all banged up. Their status for Monday night has not yet been declared.

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Posted on: October 30, 2010 10:25 pm
 

Week 8 injury report analysis Part IV

Posted by Andy Benoit

Vikings @ Patriots

You may have heard that there is some question as to whether Brett Favre will play on his fractured ankle. With the exception of a few limited drills on Friday, Favre did not practice all week. But he expects to play. The only other Vikings who are classified as anything worse than “probable” are CB Lito Sheppard and G Chris DeGeare. But nobody cares about either of those guys because they’re not Brett Favre.

Read into the Patriots injury report what you will. RB Fred Taylor (toe) and S Jarrad Page (calf) are both out. WR Deion Branch (hamstring), S Patrick Chung (knee) and DE Mike Wright (knee) are questionable. Expect Branch and Chung to play. Also, in true Patriot spirit, QB Tom Brady is probable with a right shoulder.

Seahawks @ Raiders

Five of Seattle’s questionable players did not participate in practice: OT Russell Okung (ankle), CB Kelly Jennings (hamstring), DT Brandon Mebane (calf), RB Michael Robinson (hamstring) and CB Walter Thurmond (head). The Jennings and Thurmond injuries catch your eye because it could mean Seattle has to rely heavily on undrafted second-year pros Roy Lewis and Nate Ness. Expect backup safety Jordan Babineaux to get work at corner (Babineaux has been very effective in this role before).

The injuries at cornerback may actually be offset by Oakland’s injuries at wide receiver. Louis Murphy (chest) and Chaz Schilens (knee) are both out. Backup wideout Nick Miller (ankle) and go-to guy Zach Miller are also questionable (foot). Both were limited in practice this week. The man in charge of throwing these players the ball, QB Bruce Gradkowski, is questionable with the shoulder problem that has sidelined him the past few weeks.

Steelers @ Saints

Saints running backs Reggie Bush (fibula) and Pierre Thomas (ankle) are both out. Both players are frustrated, as they originally expected to be back by now. An X-ray last.

Saturday revealed that Bush’s fibula still had a visible fracture; Thomas is currently on crutches.

The Saints do not expect to get star cornerback Jabari Greer back this week. He’s listed as doubtful after sitting out Week 7 with a shoulder injury. The good news is No. 2 corner Tracy Porter IS expected to return after missing the last three games with a knee injury.
Aside from starting defensive ends Brett Keisel (hamstring) and Aaron Smith (triceps), the Steelers are healthy. Keisel and Smith may not be household names, but they’re significant pieces in Dick LeBeau’s defense. This will be the first time that Pittsburgh truly leans on first-round pick Ziggy Hood.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com