Along with putting DE Aaron Smith on injured-reserve, the Steelers have activated DE Corbin Bryant from the practice squad, filling Smith's place.
Bryant, a rookie lineman from Northwestern, was undrafted this April, but was on the Steelers radar quickly after the lockout ended.
He's filling the roster spot of a legend. A banged-up and broken legend, but a legend nonetheless.
Smith appeared a step off his game in the Steelers first four games, has been hampered by injuries since 2007. He played in 11 games that year, but rebounded to play in all 16 games plus the playoffs in 2008. He missed 11 games in 2009 and nine games last season.
His declining play this season was not the Aaron Smith the Steelers have seen in the past. While his sudden move to the IR comes as something of a surprise, his continued appearance in the lineup this season was questionable.
Smith has been a fundamental member of the Steelers team since he arrived via Northern Colorado in 1999. He only made on Pro Bowl team (2004) but is regarded by many as being one of the more underrated players in the last 10 years. His defensive end position in the Steelers 3-4 defense didn't earn him individual accolades, but his ability to take on blockers and get penetration in the backfield set up a slew of highly productive outside linebackers.
To echo what BTSC's John Stephens wrote earlier, If the Steelers have seen the last of Smith, it is indeed a shame. Very few have been more popular among his teammates and the Steelers community.