Scouts Inc. on Aaron Smith

While this season's return of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu from injury is getting most of the hype, defensive end Aaron Smith's return has flown under the radar.

Smith, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2009, has been one of the most consistent players in Pittsburgh for the past decade. Monday we caught up with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to get his thoughts on Smith entering his 12th season.

Matt, how do you view Smith at this stage of his career?

Williamson: I think he's one of the most underrated players in the league, now and for his career. I'm assuming that he comes back to full health. I haven't seen anything in his game previous to injury to think age is catching up to him. He's still playing at a very high level. He's a real handful. He's a great technician, and I think he's exactly what you want as a 3-4 defensive end. He's very powerful, knows how to use his big body, he's fabulous against the run and can handle double-teams. He gives you something as a pass-rusher and plays very, very hard. He's top-notch.

How much can second-year defensive end Ziggy Hood help keep Smith and Brett Keisel fresh in the rotation?

Williamson: That would go a long way, particularly on passing downs. Hood was in the Big 12 where they threw all the time. He's still learning how to play defensive end in a 3-4. So I think we will see a lot more of him on clear throwing downs but also more as a rotational guy to eat up snaps and extend [Smith's and Keisel's] careers and keep them healthy. All in all, it's a pretty decent situation.