Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Steelers could get Polamalu, Parker, back, lose Smith

The hits just keep on coming for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Though they are likely to get Troy Polamalu and Willie Parker back in the lineup this week, they have lost Aaron Smith, perhaps for the season, to a torn rotator cuff.

The star defensive end suffered the shoulder injury in the second half of the win against Detroit and was being evaluated Thursday.

Look for Travis Kirschke to step into the starting lineup this week against Cleveland, rotating with Nick Eason and rookie Ziggy Hood.

Hood's not quite ready to step into a starting role just yet, though he has gotten better at holding the point of attack.

They'll put the hard-sell on Hood and likely try to get him ready to take on a starting role coming out of the bye in a few weeks.

As for Smith, the Steelers can place him on injured reserve, thus ending his season, or they can keep him on the 53-man roster - ala Rod Woodson in 1995 - and hope that the surgery he has later this week will allow him to return in January.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you mean that Travis Kirschke is starting and will with rotate with Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood?

Anonymous said...

Hey Dale...there is a rumor out there that he needs rotator cuff surgery and will be out for a long time..any truth to this

Skinley said...

Wow...that would be bad. I'm holding out hope that he can return in a few weeks but I'm guessing its something that will end his season.

Greg Mercer said...

jim wexell just reported on Steel City that smith will be out till january, and that Tomlin will have to decide whether or not to put him on IR.

http://pit.scout.com/2/908712.html

keevin said...

too bad we cut Eason to sign Redman again....oh wait we didn't, that was just what everyone here besides Dale and I said we should do :)

Patrick said...

Yeh I was just about to post the same thing as Greg.

Heres an outside the box idea that everyone will rip me for.

If A. Smith can comeback by Jan, the Steelers could conceivably cut Batch and go with 2 QB's until then to open up the roster spot. Does anyone think Batch would sign somewhere else? I'm not sure. It's a high risk play and honestly, only smart if Ben doesn't go down. I'm not sure I even love the idea, but its a thought.

I don't think they would cut Logan either, but thats not a must have roster spot either. (I still think Wallace and Moore could do what he does, or just about)

marc said...

trade parker for starting DE?

SKINLEY said...

marc, i know you love the odea of trading Parker for a starting DE but it isn't going to happen. trades like that don;t happen in the nfl and no team would give us a starting de for a backup / oft injured running back with 10 weeks remaining on his contract. sorry man.

Anonymous said...

Patrick - wtf are u talking about?

we dont have to cut anybody. just stash Smith on the inactive list until January

marc said...

skinley,
you're a dream squasher.

keevin said...

yeah, I'm not following what you are saying Patrick. We have Eason, Kirsche and Hood already on the roster to replace Smith. Why do we have to cut somebody???

Anonymous said...

Parker, any steelers for that matter, won't ever be traded. Besides, trade for who? There are not that many good 3-4 DEs in the league. Eason and kirshke are just as good as some starters, plus we have ziggy hood

Patrick said...

you don't HAVE to, obviously. But its big waste of a roster spot, for three months. Not a few weeks as with a minor injury. This is also not a spot where the depth behind Smith is good. Does anyone really feel comfortable with Eason/Kirschke/Hood until January?

They do need to cut someone if they plan to not IR Smith and bring someone in (Harris, vet, etc. ) though. So that is more along the lines of my thinking.

I wouldn't hate it if they kept him inactive until he is ready - assuming that is even possible, he could be done for the year. And I couldn't of made it anymore clear in the 1st post, I was just kicking around ideas.

keevin said...

If they think Smith can come back for the playoff run then they can and will keep a roster spot for him. Bill Cowher kept a roster spot all season for an injured Rod Woodson who didn't even play untill the Super Bowl

I don't see why we have to do anything drastic like cutting someone for no reason. We have had Eason on the inactive list, now we put Smith there and activate Eason, problem solved.

Anonymous said...

"We have had Eason on the inactive list, now we put Smith there and activate Eason, problem solved."

exactly!

now, if another injury occurs in the dline then smith, or that injured player, is sent to IR and they have to look for a replacement on the roster. Bring harris from the panthers PS or mclendon from the steelers own PS

Patrick said...

I realize and agree with you, that is the simple solution here. And I'd say its likely that will be the solution.

But you it is assuming that the calendar will hit Jan 1 and Smith will pop back in like he's played all season.

It is also assuming that everyone in the FO is ok with Eason/Kirschke/Hood. If they try to bring someone in on the active roster, then they have to cut someone. And I was kicking around ideas for that.

I persoanlly think they'll sign Harris off the Carolina PS and that means he has to go on the roster, hence someone is cut.

keevin said...

"It is also assuming that everyone in the FO is ok with Eason/Kirschke/Hood."

The Steelers coaches chose Eason and Kirschke to make the roster for a reason

You are assuming their is some DE sitting out there who is better than them but there isn't.

Patrick said...

its not about as good, its about depth. We just lost a starting a DE at the position we probably have the least depth at. But look this has gotten silly, we're beating this up to a point it doesn't need be.

I don't think it is crazy to go on with Eason, but I expect them to make a move. Thats all, and I don't think its that crazy to think that either.

Anonymous said...

I think if anyone gets cut it is going to be Ratliff. I am guessing they will wait a 2-3 weeks to make sure Troy is fully healthy. Also, after the Denver game when Clark probably won't play. Until then they just pray another D Lineman doesn't get hurt.

Also, where has Mundy been? Most of the big plays have come over the middle and Carter and Ratliff have been toasted. Not saying he would do any better but I thought he was going to get more PT.

Chas Steel

Anonymous said...

wonder if Woodley can play some at DE? just a thought, would give us a lot of speed overall. Can't imagine any changes to roster because of this, unless the determination is made that he is done for the year, which wouldn't be until after surgery.

Can't believe Smith is out....sux big time. damn the football gods.

Farmer Fran

Ben said...

Woodley couldn't play 3-4 end. No chance.

HACK said...

If Smith is out till Jan...then just send him to IR...resign Sonny Harris....role with Keisel, Kirschke, Hood, Eason, and Harris

HACK

noel said...

Losing Smith is tough but we'll get through. Our D is fourth in the league with a bye week coming up. My big wish is no more pick sixes, those hurt more than the 4th quarter prevent we've been playing.

Patrick said...

I would agree Hack, but if Smith is out in the playoffs, (assuming that happens) the Steelers are in trouble.

I still don't think Smith can just wake up one Sunday in Jan and be ready to roll with this injury. But if its possible for him to return, you have to roll the dice on him being back and effective. He's just that important and the depth isn't there.

Almost any other position I would say IR him.

Dale Lolley said...

Actually, if anyone could be ready to roll in January, it would be Aaron Smith. He's a technician. That's not going to leave him.

That said, they'll roll with Kirschke the next couple of weeks and come with Ziggy after the bye.

In terms of depth, this is actually one of the better spots. They can put Hokie at end as well.
What it's going to mean, however, is more snaps for Keisel.

I'd also look more at Hampton in the nickel, but they could go with Hood and Keisel there.

noel said...

I'd like to see Hampton in the nickel. He's in a contract year with something to prove and he's playing well. We should be able to run on most of the teams we have remaining, I like how things are shaping up. We don't need to take the air out of the ball like the Cowher years but it would be nice to see some more balance in the attack.

marc said...

smith is better than half the DE's out there with one good arm. i can't see them IR him unless the shoulder is blown up.

time to step up woodley, timmons and hood. if these guys play to their billing then smith's loss can be absorbed. if not, we will get exploited in spread packages. #43 will need to cheat up and the passing lanes will open up.

maybe lebeua will go with a hybrid defense at times. 2 DL, 5 LBs, 4 DBs, and guys moving all over the place before the snap. would be interesting for 1 or 2 series a game.

noel said...

I like Timmons but I'd kind of like to see Keyaron Fox in on the early downs to provide more run support and keep Timmons fresher. I like the idea of 5 LBs here and there. We have the right personnel for it.

marc said...

it seems fox is much more stout against the run than timmons. is it just me or is that reality?

noel said...

Fox seems to take better angles and react to the play more quickly to my untrained eye. He seems more confident.

That's not to say Timmons won't pick it up but I'd like to see them platoon a bit more.

Patrick said...

explain to me how this is one of the better spots when we're talking bringing a NT to DE?

I'm all for Hoke at DE, but come on, DL is thin and its painfully obvious after this injury. The Kirschke idea didn't exactly pan out in 07. I don't see how it would be better 2 years later for an older guy.

adamg said...

The Steelers could try and go to a 4-3 with Smith out. Hood was a DT in college, so you could have a DT rotation of Hampton, Hoke, Hood and DE rotation of Keisel, Kirshke, Eason. Lamarr Woodley would be able to play DE in a 4-3, IMO. Again, IMO, Hampton would be a disruptive force if he was allowed to push the C/G back instead of just occupying them to free up the LBs.

After all, the Steeler OLs have said they've had trouble adjusting to 4-3 defenses since not many teams in the AFC use them.

Anonymous said...

adam - we just lost our best defensive lineman. Switching to a system that actually requires more lineman makes no sense at all. Sorry

Anonymous said...

speaking of Fox, he's probably better than Farrior

Anonymous said...

actually adamg's comment does make sense in theory and is not a bad idea but I doubt it will happen

Anonymous said...

They'll keep with the same system, thats why you have backups at each position.

I agree about Hoke, think they will use him at End at times, particularly against the Vikes, to keep from getting run all over by AP without Smith there.

Wexell is saying they are signing Harris. Hope they keep the slot open for Smith (unless its a totally lost cause) and cut Davis.

Farmer Fran

marc said...

steelers website reporting smith is on IR and they signed harris.

keevin said...

I think we'll be okay and won't totally fall apart like we did last time Smith was hurt.

I hope Harris eventually gets a chance to play. We know what we have in Kirsche and Eason, but Harris has the potential to be better than those 2. Bring in Ziggy Hood on 3rd downs for a pass rush

other_patrick said...

Dale,

I like your comment about using Hampton in the Nickle.

I'd like to see him take Smith's place in the 1-5-5 where Smith plows diagonally into the line.

If the intent is for that single down lineman to open some gaps and require mulitple OL players to block, I can think of nobody better than Casey.

These calls for putting OLB in at DE and switching to 4-3 are ridiculous. I don't know how you think that would be something that's easy to do compared with using proven backups who've filled in capably for many seasons.

@ Patrick: Hoke has position flexibility and can play both positions. Don't pigeon hole the guy.

Anonymous said...

wish I shared your optimism. Run D has been solid all year (just like in 2007) and went to crap when Smith went out. Same two backups, Eason and K. Tomlin's been saying Hood isn't ready - which is really annoying after all the preseason hype?

now does this put more pressure on Troy to not only reinforce pass D but also fill new holes in the run D and he gets reinjured.

ignore me, I'm a dark cloud today. was really looking forward to D getting back on all cylinders.

Farmer Fran

adamg said...

Personally, I think the Steeler DL personnel without Smith is more suited to a 4-3. Hood is a DT by trade and was more of a speed and quickness guy at Mizzou than a power DT like Hampton and Rodgers were at Texas. I don't honestly see him as a 3-4 DE, but he's a talented player and could well prove me wrong. That said, I don't think Tomlin or LeBeau will switch away from the 3-4 just because, as noted, it would change a lot, not just 1 position.

I expect Eason will surprise a lot of people. When he was first signed, I thought he was not an NFL caliber player. But last year, he played very well and the 2nd DL
wasn't that far below the 1st DL when they were in.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget the last time Smith went down there were some other injuries that hurt the defense as well. Clark was injured around the same game, Troy battled a knee injury and missed some time, and I beleive Porter might have been struggling with a bummed knee. Also, Clark Haggans was starting at OLB.

I think the loss will hurt but not as bad as everyone thinks. Hood will be solid after a few games under his belt. Tomlin is just trying to fire him up just like Mendenhall by saying he is not ready yet. Hood looked pretty darn good in the preseason.

Chas Steel

Anonymous said...

You want a trade rumor, I got one. Willie Parker for Julius Peppers! Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

here's a better trade (heard Glen Dorsey was on trade block)

Parker + Sweed for Dorsey!

Dale Lolley said...

How in the world would Julius Peppers help things. He's a 4-3 end.
He's also making a gajillion dollars under the new contract he just signed.

Moving to a 4-3 makes absolutely no sense. You don't blow up the whole defense because you lost one guy.

The thing to remember is that when this happened in 2007, Eason had just joined the Steelers - after the season had begun. He's now been through a few training camps with them. They also didn't have Woodley on the strong side. They had Clark Haggans, who just isn't as good.

Again, they'll make do with Kirschke and Eason until the bye with the idea of getting Hood in there after the bye.

adamg said...

Dale, I would agree with your observations. The Steelers aren't likely to move to a 4-3 this year. However assuming they let Hampton walk after this year or don't trade way up in the draft to get a Hampton-like DT, they simply won't have the right personnel to play a 3-4 as early as next year.

Chris Hoke has done a nice job as a back up NT, esp several years ago when Hampton missed most of the season, but now he's 33 yrs old and depends more on quickness than strength to make plays. There's nothing wrong with this, but it isn't the prototypical NT play the Steelers would want, imho, for their full time 3-4 NT.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

On the down side compared to 07, the 4 main guys who will have to pick up the slack, Hampton, Hoke, Kirschke, and Keisel are all 2 years older - and its 2 in age not experience.

Eason was a non factor in 07, can you really see him being anything different. he hasn't dressed and we cut him once. (he's been in the league 7 years, not gonna get any better)

It's all on Ziggy. I can't take Harris seriously this year, maybe next, he's got a lot to learn and IMO, he's too big to play DE in our system. But time will tell and I'm glad we got him back anyway, he was worth the roster slot.

Farmer Fran

Dale Lolley said...

They're a 3-4 team as long as LeBeau is here.