Steelers place Smith on injured reserve
• The Steelers placed Marvel Smith on injured reserve Tuesday, ending the left tackle’s season and possibly his career in Pittsburgh. The Steelers signed former Pine-Richland and Indiana (Pa.) University standout Jason Capizzi to take Smith’s spot on the 53-man roster.
Smith hasn’t played since the Oct. 5 game in Jacksonville because of a bad back. The ninth-year veteran, who missed the end of the 2007 season because of back problems, is in the final year of his contract. Max Starks has started the past 10 games at left tackle. Capizzi, a Gibsonia native, was on the Steelers’ roster for one game last season. The 6-foot-9, 330-pound tackle had surgery in August to correct a stress fracture in his left foot. The Steelers released Capizzi during training camp after they reached an injury settlement with him.
• One benefit of the Steelers getting a first-round bye in the playoffs is it will give starting free safety Ryan Clark an extra week to get healthy. Clark re-injured his right shoulder while making a tackle in the Steelers’ 31-14 loss to the Titans on Sunday. Clark, who missed a game earlier this season because of a separated shoulder, won’t play Sunday against the Browns. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Clark probably would not have been able to play the following week if the Steelers were in one of the AFC wild-card games. Tyrone Carter will start in Clark’s place Sunday, Tomlin said, and the ninth-year veteran will rotate with Anthony Smith.
• The Steelers will have a standard practice week — for the most part. Tomlin did make a minor adjustment to the schedule for Christmas. The Steelers will practice from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — they normally practice from 1 to 3 p.m. on Thursdays — and they won’t have to report to the team’s South Side training facility until the afternoon. “We’re providing everybody with an opportunity to spend morning at home, and then we intend to have everyone home in time for dinner,” said Tomlin, who is married and has three children. “Between that, we’re going to get us a normal Thursday work day in. I know that’s what we need to do.”
• ESPN will re-air its segment on Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s holiday tradition today during the 9 a.m. “SportsCenter.” For nearly two decades, LeBeau has gathered his players to read “The Night Before Christmas.” ESPN Countdown originally aired the segment, which shows how LeBeau’s tradition has created a bond between him and his players, last Sunday morning.
1 — Steelers’ rank in total defense (244.7 yards per game).
31 — Browns’ NFL rank in total offense (257.3 yards per game).
66.5 — Rushing yards the Steelers surrendered in their first 11 games.
111.5 — Rushing yards the Steelers have yielded in their past four games.