Hours before Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game between the Ravens and Steelers, it was announced that Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith has been ruled out with a triceps injury. Smith has not seen any action since Week 7.
Smith, one of the Steelers' most valuable defensive assets, was not placed on injured reserve by the team, as coach Mike Tomlin held out hope that he would be able to contribute in the postseason. Earlier this week, Jason La Canfora cited a source that said Smith would not be able to return prior to the Super Bowl, should the Steelers get that far:
The Steelers knew at the time that Smith's injury could have been considered season-ending, but given his importance to the team, they kept a roster spot open for the playoffs and didn't place him on injured reserve.
At FanHouse, meanwhile, J.J. Cooper notes that as good as Smith is, his absence doesn't figure to be devastating:
When healthy, he's the team's best defensive lineman, but the team has handled his absence pretty well -- they led the NFL in run defense this season thanks to the solid play of Ziggy Hood and Nick Eason, Smith's replacements.
We're now only hours away from game time. Keep up with this StoryStream before, during, and after the game for updates. And for more on these teams, check out our Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain, and our Ravens blog, Baltimore Beatdown.