Defensive end Aaron Smith was placed on injured reserve today, which ends his season and perhaps the career for the unsung hero on the dominant Steelers defenses over the past decade.
This marks the third straight season that injuries have limited the 35-year-old Smith. He only played in 11 games between the 2009 and 2010 seasons due to shoulder and triceps injuries and appeared in four this season before a foot injury shortened it.
The move probably signals the end of a career for Smith because the Steelers already have his replacement in 2009 first-round draft pick Ziggy Hood, who has excelled in Smith's absence.
Smith, a 1999 fourth-round draft pick by the Steelers out of Northern Colorado, was possibly the most unheralded figure on the Steelers defenses. From 2000 to 2008, when Smith had double-digit starts, Pittsburgh ranked in the top 10 in defense all nine years including four as the top-ranked defense. During his career, Smith had at least four sacks in six seasons and finished 10th on the team's all-time list with 44.
Undrafted rookie defensive end Corbin Bryant was promoted from the practice squad to take Smith's spot.