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Anthony Smith saga

September 10, 2008 - Buck Frank

Steelers safety Anthony Smith has become one of the more well-known backups in the NFL for all the wrong reasons.

He first made SportsCenter highlights by high-stepping after an interception his rookie season in Carolina. The Steelers were well-ahead at the time, and he received a tongue lashing from Dick LeBeau as soon as he reached the sideline.

Next came his infamous guarantee of a victory against the unbeaten New England Patriots last year. In my personal opinion, what he said was taken out of context, but nonetheless it was the subject of many talk shows leading up to the game, and the Patriots certainly played off of it.

Smith, after a terrible ending to his 2007 season, was the subject of more controversy during training camp this year. After sticking Hines Ward during a practice, he was accused of "thuggery' in a Pittsburgh newspaper, and coach Mike Tomlin was forced to defend him in a subsequent press conference.

Now, the start of the season, and Smith isn't even dressed for Sunday's opener against the Texans. Tyrone Carter, who was last seen having trouble tackling Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard, was the backup safety, and several young guys were dressed for kick coverage duties.

Smith's future is kind of uncertain. He's a great hitter, but hasn't been strong in coverage. The Steelers, as long as Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are healthy, may be content to keep him on the bench the rest of the season.

Here's hoping Smith can work his way back into the lineup. He adds a presence and reputation that can take opposing receivers off their game. In the last exhibition game, he drilled/injured Carolina quarterback Matt Moore. That's the kind of hitter in the secondary -- whether you like it or not -- who gives receivers alligator arms. He could really add an element (criminal?) to the defense.

But he has to get his act together first.

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