PITTSBURGH — Jaylon Smith had no clue he would be on an NFL team and preparing for a game on Christmas Day. That was until the Steelers called, needing some more help at inside linebacker after Elandon Roberts suffered a pec injury that will sideline him for at least Sunday’s game in Seattle. But Smith, who had been on the Raiders a little over a month ago, is fully ready and prepared to play whenever needed.
But he’s not sure what his role will be as it stands on Wednesday. But Smith has started to dive into the defense, and will be ready if his number is called.
“I don’t know what the role’s going to be” Smith said. “But what I’m going to do is make sure I’m ready for whatever. I’m a guy that’s got experience, and I know I can still add a lot of value to a team.”
Smith is one of many players who hear about the tradition in Pittsburgh. Going back to the days of the Steel Curtain, the Steelers are revered for their defensive prowess to players across the NFL. Smith is another one of those guys who is excited to play for the tradition that the team stands for historically.
“Being here in Pittsburgh, I understand the Steel Curtain tradition,” Smith said. “For me, it’s about giving all I’ve got, applying pressure, and really just adding value, so I’m excited.”
With Roberts out, it’s no telling what the Steelers might ask of Smith. Myles Jack, Mykal Walker, Blake Martinez, and Mark Robinson are still around to help out in the room, but Smith has experience that could add a wrinkle. He has played on 48 hours notice before on a new team. It would not be out of the realm of possibility for him to do that, even if the Steelers might not need that this week. But it could be something the team looks into when they play Baltimore next week and if they somehow sneak into the playoffs. It is unknown how severe Roberts’ injury is, and so this could be a critical add.
“I mean, I’ve done this all before,” Smith said. “I’ve played on 48 hours notice, I’ve come in on a Thursday and started on Sunday. For me, it’s about getting here, getting around the guys, understanding the chemistry, and understanding what we want to do and achieve. Then, it’s about getting the playbook down. I know what I can do on the field.”
Smith has started to already study the defense, and likes it’s attacking style that can allow free-flowing play. Pittsburgh has a defense that is quick to react and get downhill, even if they have issues elsewhere. That is right up Smith’s alley as an attacking linebacker, though.
“I love the edge, the physicality we play with here in Pittsburgh,” Smith said. “Everyone’s flying around and trying to make a play. But they are doing it together. That’s what matters, especially on the defensive side. You have to be a unit. And that’s what we are here.”
Pittsburgh is going to call upon Smith if needed. Mike Tomlin said that Martinez will get up and ready to go, and seemingly, Jack will start alongside Walker heading into this week. They will need all the help they can get with a talented Seahawks offense that has plenty of weapons to exploit them with across the board.