By Dale Grdnic
Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports
PITTSBURGH — As expected after talking with defensive end Aaron Smith Wednesday, it doesn’t look like he’ll play against the New York Jets this week.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4) take on the Jets (13-5) in the AFC championship game Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at Heinz Field.
Smith was listed as a limited participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday, but he really has not done anything. And he basically admitted that he was not cleared for a full practice after doctors viewed the MRI on his right triceps last Friday. So, he likely will miss an 11th straight game this week.
“I’m always going…
to hold out hope, and you never know,” Smith said. “I don’t think I’d need much practice, but it’s really not my decision. It’s up to Coach Tomlin and the doctors.”
The same cast of characters did not practice at all Thursday. That group includes safety Will Allen (knee), wideout Arnaz Battle (illness), cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen) and strong safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles). Battle wasn’t even around Thursday, due to flu-like symptoms.
“I was a little sore after the game (last Saturday), but I feel really good today,” Polamalu said Thursday after practice. “I would say that I feel about the same (as last week). (But) I don’t imagine their game plan would change over one player like me, and our (game plan) absolutely will not.”
Ryan Mundy has replaced Polamalu in the Steelers secondary this week, while William Gay has taken over for McFadden. Both are expected to practice Friday and said they should be available to play Sunday.
Allen didn’t appear to be in that category after he basically was carried off the field during the Ravens’ game. But he characterized his injury as a “small sprain,” so he should be ready to go for the game.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Allen said. “I’m glad it was just a sprain, nothing tore, so I’m going to be ready to go.”
Battle and Allen are key special teams performers for the Steelers.
New York Jets Injuries
Nobody was held out during Thursday’s practice, as linebacker Jason Taylor (concussion) was able to participate on a limited basis.
Joining him in that category are cornerback Drew Coleman (knee), safety James Ihedigbo (knee, ankle), cornerback Darrelle Revis (hamstring) and wideout Brad Smith (groin).
Full participants in Thursday’s practice for the Jets included cornerback Antonio Cromartie (groin), defensive tackle Mike Devito (neck), wideout Santonio Holmes (quadricep), center Nick Mangold (shoulder), defensive tackle Sione Pouha (back) and quarterback Mark Sanchez (right shoulder).