Doctors clear Steelers' Smith to begin lifting weights

Kevin Gorman
| Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010

Defensive end Aaron Smith had an MRI on his torn left triceps and was cleared by team doctors to start lifting weights, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

"He's doing pretty good," Tomlin said. "We're going to take another MRI in about two weeks or so and see where that takes us, but we're encouraged by his progress. There's no setbacks in his recovery. It's time to take the next step and now start tossing a few weights around, which is good news."

Tomlin is optimistic that Smith could return in time for the playoffs, which is why the Steelers didn't place him on season-ending injured reserve.

"That's been our intentions all along," Tomlin said. "This is not charity by any stretch. We're not in that business. We're in the business of winning football games. We thought it was a possibility that this man could make it back and help us. He's doing what he's supposed to do; we're doing what we're supposed to do, which is win. Hopefully, the two things converge and meet."

• Flozell Adams left the Baltimore game with what Tomlin called a "mild" high-ankle sprain, which could limit the starting right tackle in practice this week. Tomlin said Trai Essex is the frontrunner to start if Adams can't play. Tomlin added that the Steelers will continue to limit strong safety Troy Polamalu's participation in practice early this week as a precaution.

• Tomlin said he was "a little uncomfortable" finishing Sunday's game with one tight end and six offensive linemen and was asked if wide receiver Hines Ward was a realistic replacement at tight end. "We have a bunch of volunteers," Tomlin said. "It doesn't necessarily mean I want to use them." Tomlin, however, didn't discount defensive end Brett Keisel. "He probably would be the first place I would go," Tomlin said. "He's an awesome athlete."

• Tomlin said Shaun Suisham's 45-yard field goal into the wind was actually 2 yards beyond their agreed-upon range in warm-ups, but that he gave the kicker a "competitor's opportunity" and was rewarded. "That wind was significant at that end of the stadium," Tomlin said, "so it really wasn't a surprise that Baltimore didn't attempt a field goal at 48, 49 yards in that same direction. Forty-five was pushing it."

Tomlin's take

From Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's weekly news conference:

On QB Ben Roethlisberger continuing to play with a broken nose:

"He's a competitor. I think I even said it after the game: We expect that from him — not that it goes unappreciated, just that we expect that from him. He expects that from himself. He's our quarterback. AFC North football is competitive. The series against the Ravens is a competitive one. No one is going to leave that stadium extremely comfortable, on either side. We understand what playing those guys is about, and he delivered for us."

On whether he liked that the NFL fined two Baltimore players for hits?

"Not my business."

On Steelers secondary getting beat deep against the Ravens:

"I don't like it when it happens. I'm not overly concerned about it, no. They've got some talented people. ... It's kind of uncharacteristic of us, but I think giving up big plays is uncharacteristic of any great defense. And, of course, we've got a desire to be a great defense. Hopefully, we don't make a habit of it."

On the Bengals' struggles since the first meeting:

"They're a 2-10 football team or so, no doubt, but they've been in just about every football game. They made us absolutely miserable last time we played them. This is an AFC North matchup. We expect no different. Sixty minutes of football is going to be required."

On finishing each of the first three quarters of the season 3-1 heading into season's final four games:

"I'm not ready to have a 'quarter' talk. It's Tuesday of the Cincinnati Bengals. They swept us a year ago. They celebrated pretty nicely on our field the second time they beat us. That's my focus."

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