NFC North: Aaron Smith

XLV: Practice report V

February, 3, 2011
Getting inside the Thursday practice report for Super Bowl XLV, culling from the injury and pool reports:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Practice was again held in an indoor facility at TCU. There was no change to the injury report, meaning center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) again missed practice. There continues to be little chance he will play in Super Bowl XLV. "It’s getting to be the witching hour for Maurkice," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He’s going to have to show us something very soon." Defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps) again was limited.

Green Bay Packers: Coach Mike McCarthy cut out one step of the Packers' practice tour, having players dress at the team hotel rather than bussing to Southern Methodist to use the locker room there. Practice was again held at an indoor facility at Highland Park high school. Receiver Donald Driver (quadriceps) was held out of team drills, but McCarthy said: "He’s fine. He wants to practice and all that, but I’m not taking any chances with him. I'll probably hold him out tomorrow, as well." Driver missed a game this season because of a quadriceps ailment, but it seems likely he will play Sunday. Meanwhile, linebacker Erik Walden (ankle) was "very sore," McCarthy said, and was held out of team drills. Frank Zombo has been working with the first-team defense in his absence. Finally, McCarthy said he does not plan to check the team into a new hotel Saturday night, as is customary for many Super Bowl teams.

XLV: Practice report IV

February, 2, 2011
Getting inside the Wednesday practice report for Super Bowl XLV, culling from the injury and pool reports of Wednesday's activities:

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers practiced in the unheated TCU indoor practice facility for about two hours. Center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) did not practice, and coach Mike Tomlin appears to be targeting Friday as a day for Pouncey to test his ankle. The Steelers' only limited player was defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps), whose chances of playing Sunday are "fading," Tomlin said.

Green Bay Packers: Players and coaches got a nice tour of the Dallas-Fort Worth area Wednesday. They conducted the preliminary portion of their practice -- what coach Mike McCarthy calls a "jog-thru" -- at the team hotel. Then they bussed to their designated practice facility at Southern Methodist University, where they put on their pads, and then took a short trip to Highland Park high school's indoor facility. The Packers seem likely to follow the same drill Thursday and Friday. All Packers players participated in at least a portion of Wednesday's practice. That includes linebacker Erik Walden (ankle), offensive lineman Jason Spitz (calf) and left tackle Chad Clifton (knees). Walden will start Sunday if healthy. "How Erik responds to this practice will be big," McCarthy said. "He practiced and took reps in every team drill. That was the high end of what we were going to try to give him today. It'll be great if he feels good tomorrow."

XLV: Practice report III

January, 28, 2011
Getting inside Friday's Super Bowl practice report, which in a particularly quirky development, required both teams to classify their injured players' prospects for playing the Feb. 6 game:

Pittsburgh Steelers: Three players who had been sitting out practice this week returned for full participation Friday: Cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen), safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles) and receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot) all practiced Friday. Center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle) did not and was listed as questionable for the game, along with safety Will Allen (knee) and defensive end Aaron Smith (triceps). Don't read much into those designations. We won't know anything definitive about Pouncey until late next week, if at all.

Green Bay Packers: Friday was the Packers' first practice of the week; they continue working through Monday morning before they depart for Texas. Coach Mike McCarthy decided to give his players as much time off as he could. He also reversed course on an initial plan to have players wear full pads Friday. The big news was that linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) practiced for the first time in about six weeks. His return coincided with current starter Erik Walden's ankle injury. McCarthy said Walden won't practice until next Wednesday at the earliest. It's not yet clear if Zombo would be healthy enough to replace Walden in the starting lineup. For what it's worth, the Packers listed Walden and Zombo as questionable for the game.