NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora is reporting that Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith could be out for the remainder of the season after suffering what appears to be a torn triceps in the Steelers 23-22 win over the Miami Dolphins this afternoon.
Smith, who is scheduled for further testing Monday morning, left the game with a little under five and a half minutes to play in the third quarter in Miami.
Smith’s 2009 season was cut short after suffering a torn rotator cuff against the Detroit Lions in week five. If Smith is indeed lost for the season, it would be the third time in the last four years that he has finished the season on the IR.
Smith saw the injured reserve list in 2007 after tearing his biceps. If Sunday’s original prognosis is true, a tear in his left triceps will put him back on the IR again come Monday or Tuesday at the very latest.
According to La Canfora, a league source says that the Steelers are already operating under the assumption that Smith will be out for the season, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette has also confirmed the early diagnosis.
With right defensive end Brett Keisel missing Sunday’s game nursing a hamstring injury, the Steelers are already playing pretty thin at the defensive line position.
Nick Eason and 2009 first round pick Ziggy Hood have been serving as backups this season, and while it was Eason that started in place of Keisel Sunday, it is more likely that Hood will play substantially in the absence of Smith.
The Steelers will most likely recall Steve McLendon from the practice squad in order to fill the roster spot for now, but with the uncertainty surrounding Smith's status, there is no indication as to what the Steelers will look to do to shore up the defensive line in weeks to come.
No matter what happens, Smith’s injury is going to be measured in weeks rather than days, and one has to wonder what the future holds for his NFL career.
At 34 years of age, Smith is certainly past his prime physically. Despite the recent injuries, his play when healthy has been at an All-Pro level, but the frailty of his upper extremities over the last half-decade begs the question as to whether or not his days may be numbered.
Regardless of the outcome of Monday’s tests, the Steelers are going to have to get the most out of Eason and Hood going forward. The lack of penetration with Keisel and Smith missing time over the last two games has been obvious.
Other Injury Updates:
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) said after the game that he would definitely be in the lineup after tweaking his hamstring in Sunday’s win.
Offensive tackle Flozell Adams (ankle) does not appear to be out for the long term, but he will be day to day after rolling his ankle in the second half against Miami.
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