Steelers expect Polamalu to rest ailing leg, be ready for playoffs

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't considered putting five-time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu on season-ending injured reserve, a team source said Saturday, and expect him back this month.

Some reports have surfaced that the game-changing safety could be out for the season with a strained right Achilles' tendon and a sore calf. However, the Steelers are confident that Polamalu will be ready for the playoffs.

"If this week's game was the Super Bowl, he would be playing," the source said.

Instead, it's "pretty much certain," according to the source, that Polamalu will not play Sunday against the New York Jets as a precaution. He was listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report after not being able to practice all week.

Also, with the Steelers' following game being played on a short week -- Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers -- the team will wait to determine its playoff situation before deciding whether or not to play Polamalu. If the Steelers have the AFC North title wrapped up, then in all likelihood, Polamalu wouldn't play until January.

"We'll have him back for the playoffs," the source said, "and sooner if it makes sense."

Also, Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith continues his recovery from a torn tricep. He started lifting weights a few weeks ago and now is working on returning to game shape after missing most of the regular season. He was injured in Week 7.

"He's doing great," the source said of Smith. "He'll be ready for the playoffs."

However, the Steelers have ruled out tight end Heath Miller for Sunday's game as he tries to return from a concussion that he suffered during a Dec. 5 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Miller was listed as questionable on the injury report.

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