Aaron Smith in a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and one of the better players at his position in the league. Unfortunately, he's only played in six games this season, and has been out since Oct. 24 with a torn triceps (and this after missing a majority of the 2009 season with a torn rotator cuff). While the Steelers would love to welcome him back on Sunday, the chances of him being ready to suit up in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers look slim.
Despite the fact Smith has been recovering ahead of schedule, he is still officially listed as questionable on the team's injury report. The reality of not playing in his third career Super Bowl is slowly washing over Smith.
"I've come to grips with it," Smith said of the possibility he will not play. "I'm holding out hope, but that's a reality I've had to deal with (for) months. I've tried optimism, I've tried pessimism. I've tried being happy. I'm just day to day. If I get an opportunity to (play,) it will be a blessing."
The Steelers kept Smith on their 53-man roster all season, even without any guarantee the DE would be ready to play in the Super Bowl (if they even made it that far).
Throughout it all, his coaches and teammates have been supportive, with James Farrior saying, "He does everything the right way."
He has remained a quiet but strong presence in the locker room. When asked if there is a more respected player on the team, defensive end Nick Eason shook his head.
"Absolutely not," he said. "The dude went nine years without missing a football game. We know he's doing everything he can to get back here."