Woodley Respects Familiar Foe

Thursday's notebook includes injuries, Cowher, Keisel's Beard, blown whistles.

PITTSBURGH – The memo right after the Baltimore game told the Steelers not to pick a side between the Jets and Patriots.

But LaMarr Woodley couldn't contain his enthusiasm for the Jets. Particularly after close friend David Harris ended New England's first drive by intercepting Tom Brady and returning it 58 yards to the Jets' 12-yard line.

Woodley was jumping up and down in front of his TV just like everyone else in Pittsburgh.

"We're close," said Woodley. "Real close."

Harris was the senior middle linebacker at Michigan the same year Woodley was the team's senior defensive end. They were both drafted in the second round in 2007, Woodley one pick before Harris.

Woodley has three consecutive seasons with 10 or more sacks a five-game streak of (9) sacks in playoff games. Harris was voted by teammates as the team MVP this season and has 428 career tackles – plus the 21 this post-season with the interception.

Speaking of that interception, why didn't he score?

"He said he was tired because the Patriots had the long drive and then he had to run all the way down the field," said Woodley. "I understand that."

Harris is the Jets' run-stuffing inside linebacker who drops into coverage surprisingly well for a big man of 250-plus pounds. In that way, he and Woodley have something else in common.

"Dave's a leader out there, on and off the field," Woodley remembered. "He's a guy that's not going to say much. He gets the defense lined up the correct way, and I do the talking. That's how it was out there. Dave was one of those hard-hitting, aggressive guys. He was like that his whole career at Michigan."

POLAMALU FEELING BETTER

Reports by those who waited 90 minutes for Troy Polamalu at his locker Saturday night indicated that Polamalu was limping badly. But on Thursday, Polamalu said he felt much better.

"I feel very good today," Polamalu said. "About the same as last week."

Last week, Polamalu said he was feeling better than he had at any point since aggravating his Achilles' injury against Cincinnati.

Polamalu sat out Thursday's practice, but expects to practice today, as had been coach Mike Tomlin's plan.

Also missing practice on Thursday were S Will Allen (knee), WR Arnaz Battle (illness) and CB Bryant McFadden (abdomen).

Allen will try to practice Friday and Battle will return after being told to stay home. McFadden will try to go today, but his availability for Sunday is in serious question. DE Aaron Smith was limited again Thursday and will not play Sunday.

DE Jason Taylor (concussion) returned to practice for the Jets in a limited capacity. Also limited in New York were CB Drew Coleman (knee), S James Ihedigbo (knee, ankle), CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring), and WR/KR Brad Smith (groin).

QUOTABLE

* Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on the lesson for his team after the Ravens' fumble return for a touchdown:

"Just listen for the whistle. It was kind of a freaky play. Twenty-one guys stopped. So did he [Cory Redding]. I still think a whistle blew. But that's neither here nor there."

* Brett Keisel on why he began growing a beard last June:

"To look like this (laughter). No, it was something I decided to do. Playoff beards are big around here in Pittsburgh and obviously we missed the playoffs the year before, so this is something I tried to do to convince myself we're getting back to the playoffs."

* Bill Cowher to WFAN Radio in New York:

"Pittsburgh may have some issues this weekend. The way the Jets are playing, I'm telling you this is going to be a game. I think it will be a classic game, and I like the Jets. They made believers out of me with what they did. They match up well. I think it's going to be a tough ball game but they certainly have all the ingredients to go to the Super Bowl."


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