Notebook: Smith planning new celebration

PITTSBURGH – Anthony Smith hasn't heard from any of the coaches this week about his showboating antics in last Sunday's game. So he's going to push the envelope if he gets another interception.

"I'm going to do something," the rookie promised. "It won't be as – I don't want to call it outrageous – but as high-profile as that was. I'll do something, but it'll just be a little something, nothing to get me yelled at."

Smith, of course, high-stepped his way to the sidelines after intercepting a pass – his second in as many starts – last Sunday against Carolina. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau tore into Smith when he reached the sideline. Coach Bill Cowher stepped in to make his point in a calmer manner.

Smith, though, said the rest of the team enjoyed his show.

"The players like it," he said. "We like stuff like that, but the coaches, it's really not the image of the Pittsburgh Steelers, so they just told me to calm down a little bit."

Smith will start his third consecutive game at free safety Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. He's shown more than an ability to hawk passes; he's shown up in the run game as well. That, he says, is part of his responsibilities and not an undisciplined rookie's attempt to make his presence known.

"When I'm down there in run support that fast, I'm supposed to be down there," he said. "If I see something, I'll go and get it as long as I don't jeopardize the defense."

Will Smith's quick reactions conflict with the return of freelancing strong safety Troy Polamalu?

"I'll still do what I do and Troy will do his thing," Smith said. "We'll just have to be on the same page. It'll be pretty easy. We communicate a lot at practice and are getting a feel for it."

Smith will be one of three rookies in the Steelers' lineup Sunday. Santonio Holmes could start at split end and Willie Colon will start at right tackle. None of the three was in the lineup the first time the Steelers played the Ravens.

"I'm really excited," Smith said. "They caught a couple passes on us last game. Hopefully I can stop that. I think I put more confidence in the corners, allowing them to play knowing I'll be back there and they don't have to worry about the deep balls."

HOLMES TOP ROOKIE

Holmes won the Joe Greene Great Performance Award, given annually to the Steelers' top rookie. The choice is voted upon by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Professional Football Writers of America and Holmes was the runaway winner. He leads AFC rookies with 40 receptions for 610 yards and also leads AFC rookies with 16 third-down catches. He averages 15.3 yards per catch. The number jumps to 19.6 on third down. Holmes also averages 10.3 yards per punt return after bringing one back 65 yards for a touchdown last Sunday. Antwaan Randle El averaged 10.2 yards per return last season.

"You can just see the confidence and speed with which he's playing," said Cowher. "He's making plays for us. I think he's got a very bright future."

That future gets brighter each week. Holmes made his first start last Sunday and appears headed for the same role this week, even though Cedrick Wilson has healed from an ankle injury.

"I wouldn't say it was my best game, but I gave 100 percent effort on every play," Holmes said. "I made blocks for ... big runs. I was sacrificing myself for the team.

"The coaches have been telling me all long that I'm too small, that I need to get into the weight room before I can get in there and start blocking all of those guys. I tell them all the time, coach, just give me a chance. I think I can block those guys."

He did it in a big way Sunday, in addition to his punt return and receiving skills.

"I can get 10 times better," he said. "Learning from Hines [Ward], the things he talked to me about, trying to stay healthy and studying film. That little bit of edge will help you get an advantage."

THE CHIEF AWARD

Brett Keisel and Deshea Townsend won a share of The Chief Award for their cooperation with the media. The tie is the first since the award's inception in 1988.

"The questions are easier to answer when you're winning," Townsend said. "But you try to be a professional and do what's right for the business of the NFL and not just the team. To keep people talking about the Steelers, which is always great, you have to face every question. If you can face every question and answer it the same way that you would if you were winning, it makes you a better person."

The honor can hold a dubious distinction with teammates, who sometimes view winners as being too friendly with the media.

"I don't think anyone will notice," Townsend said. "Most guys don't know about this award. They'll probably laugh at me."

"Players don't mess with me too much," said Keisel. "They think I'm crazy or something."

INJURY REPORT

Safeties Ryan Clark (groin) and Andre Lott (ankle) have been ruled out of Sunday's game. Safeties Mike Logan (hamstring) and Troy Polamalu (knee) were upgraded to probable.

For the Ravens, wide receiver Mark Clayton was added to the list as questionable with a chest injury. He missed practice Thursday along with the same seven players – Mike Flynn, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Jonathan Ogden, Samari Rolle, Gerome Sapp, Daniel Wilcox – who missed Wednesday's practice. They're all listed as questionable.


Steel City Insider Top Stories