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"Troy Polamalu will play"

Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Jets are guaranteed to get Pittsburgh's best shot in Sunday's AFC Championship game at Heinz Field. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin announced this afternoon that safety Troy Polamalu, who missed their 22-17 loss to the Jets on Dec. 19, "is going to play."

Polamalu (pictured) did not practice at all on Thursday and has been receiving treatment for ankle and Achilles injuries that might limit his range on Sunday, but he did practice today. "This is standard protocol for Troy here over the second half of the year," Tomlin said, "with Friday being his primary work day."

Much has been made in Pittsburgh of the quest of veteran defensive end Aaron Smith to make it back from a triceps injury for the AFC title game. The club has held his roster spot open for three months in an effort to give him every opportunity to return. But after his first week of practice, Tomlin was not encouraged.

"He didn't progress much this week," Tomlin said of Smith. "I'll probably characterize him as doubtful like we did last week."

Of course, the Steelers still are the second-ranked defense in the NFL, in part, because second-year man Ziggy Hood has played so well in Smith's absence.

Tomlin said starting left cornerback Bryant McFadden (abdomen) and backup safety Will Allen (knee) will be listed as questionable, and backup wide receiver Arnaz Battle (illness) is probable. All participated in Friday's practice along with Polamalu.

The Steelers and Jets can look forward to playing in forecasted single-digit temperatures on Sunday night. Pittsburgh received three or four inches of snow Thursday night, and might get more on Saturday.
 

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