Preparing for life without McFadden

If Bryant McFadden can't play Sunday, the Steelers will be better prepared. Also, the full injury report and more.

PITTSBURGH – Bryant McFadden didn't practice Wednesday, and his explanation of "it's still early in the week" didn't convince anyone that the Steelers' left cornerback will be able to play Sunday in the AFC Championship Game.

Already, the Steelers are preparing William Gay to replace McFadden in the lineup and, perhaps more importantly, for Anthony Madison to again move into the role of nickel back.

Madison has started only one game – at Buffalo this season – in his five years with the team.

"He played very well in the Buffalo game," free safety Ryan Clark said of Madison. "That was when he had time to practice and knew he was going to be in there, which is the case this week. Right now he's having time to get ready and get into the game plan, unlike last week when we really didn't expect him to play."

Even though McFadden sat out the bye week with his hip/abdominal injury, the Steelers expected him to play last Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. And he did. Until the second series. That's when he felt intense pain while trying to cover an out pattern.

"It didn't allow me to move like I would need to move on the field," said McFadden, who underwent an MRI this week.

"I re-aggravated it. It's something I have to deal with. I'm actually trying to get it to the situation where it's bearable."

What are his chances?

"I'm optimistic," he said. "It's not like we play tomorrow. I still have a few days before Sunday gets here. I feel there's a real strong chance I'll be able to get out and do what I can do."

Until then, the Steelers will prep Madison, who, up until this season, had played in 52 games but in only two defensive series. He instead was one of the team's stars on special teams, but even in practice Madison had only played as an outside corner. He moved to the inside nickel role this past training camp.

Madison played perhaps his best game as the nickel back against Cleveland, when he intercepted a pass and sacked the quarterback. But last week Madison was victimized for a 33-yard pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-15 that led to the Ravens' first touchdown.

"I don't know that we prepared him in the way that we should have, so I think this week will be better for him," said Clark. "Obviously people are going to attack that matchup. You go at the guy who's not used to being on the field.

"As for Gay, I think honestly the times he's had to play corner this year he's played the best football I've seen him play. He's doing well and we have every confidence in those guys. But we're hoping B-Mac will play."

INJURY REPORT

Along with McFadden, Troy Polamalu missed practice as a precaution for his lower leg injury. Also missing practice were special-teamers Will Allen (knee) and Arnaz Battle (illness). Limited at practice was DE Aaron Smith (triceps), who's unlikely to return this week. OLB Jason Worilds returned to practice and said his knee feels much better and that he should be able to return to special teams Sunday.

The only player to miss practice for the New York Jets was LB Jason Taylor (concussion). Limited were CB Drew Coleman (knee), S James Ihedigbo (knee, ankle), CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring), and WR/KR Brad Smith (groin).

QUOTABLE

* Ben Roethlisberger on Jets CB Cromartie saying "I love Ben":

"I love him, too."

* Roethlisberger on similar sentiments from Jets LB Bart Scott:

"He's delivered one of the hardest hits on me that I've ever felt, so that's why I take what Bart Scott says with a grain of salt."

* Mike Tomlin on how long it takes to prepare for Jets coach Rex Ryan's defense:

"It depends on whether or not you give him my plays."

* Tomlin on his "rock" in the locker room:

"Our unquestioned leader is James Farrior. I think if you polled anybody – player or coach, equipment man or receptionist – they realize he sets the tone for this outfit."


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