Aaron Smith practiced a bit indoors Tuesday with the Steelers in a light workout in shells. He wasn't available for an interview, but sources say he still has some obstacles to overcome and might not be ready for the Jan. 15 playoff game.
That's the bad news. The good news is that Troy Polamalu's lower leg is getting better. Here's a Q&A with the quiet defender.
Troy Polamalu, safety, Pittsburgh Steelers
Q: How did it go Sunday? Was it a pain-free experience?
A: It felt very good during the game.
Q: And after the game?
A: After the game was as expected. I'm just a little sore, but I'll be all right.
Q: What have you come to expect in terms of recovery?
A: Before, it was just kind of surviving from week to week. I've been getting better just because of the time I've had for healing.
Q: If you played for a couple weeks in a row, are you worried your condition would deteriorate a bit?
A: I would say that was maybe the approach a month ago, but I think that now it'll be more healing than deterioration.
Q: Will you enjoy watching to see who you're getting this weekend?
A: We get pretty anxious trying to determine who we'll play. But I think the best thing you can do at this time, which we're doing now, is just focusing on getting us better. Then we'll approach that issue when it comes. I remember we had a bye week with coach [Bill] Cowher and we did one day for each team, but I think I like this approach better.
Q: Did it work then?
A: I don't remember if it worked or not.
Q: What's your read of the offenses that you might play?
A: To be honest, I'm totally oblivious to what style of football the Chiefs play. I've heard from guys that they like to run the ball a lot, but I don't know anything about the Chiefs. Obviously we know – given the history that we've had with them – what the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens do. I won't be watching any games this weekend, but if we do play the Chiefs I'll know quite a bit about them.
Q: Are you still explosive with this Achilles' issue?
A: Yeah. I felt throughout the game that it was there.
Q: Were you testing it?
A: Given I've had a similar injury to this for two months now, I knew what to expect when I was out there.
Q: The ball seems to be finding you now. Are you feeling that way?
A: I don't know. Sometimes you just happen to be at the right spot.
Q: Has this been your best year?
A: I don't know. It's definitely been the most challenging year, given the circumstances we've had on defense and on our team. We've had a lot of adversity to deal with this year.
Q: The secondary is playing so much better, statistically, after New England. Did that game raise the focus?
A: I don't think we changed our approach at all. We did give up that one game against New England, but other than that we've played pretty solid throughout the whole year, at least the way that we felt. I think we gave up a lot of yards in games early in the season, like we did last game against the Cleveland Browns. But I think we've played pretty solid all year.