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Steelers' Smith could play Sunday

| Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011

Ziggy Hood will start at left defensive end against the New York Jets, but Aaron Smith could see action there as well in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

Smith, who has been out since partially tearing his triceps in an Oct. 24 game, is slated to practice this week, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

Smith has been dressing for practice, and if he is cleared to play against the Jets the 12th-year veteran will do so on a limited basis.

"A snap count is going to be part of that discussion ... if he's deemed well enough to go," Tomlin said.

Smith had an MRI taken on his left arm last Friday, and the 6-foot-5, 298-pounder had hoped to play against the Ravens if results from his latest scan were favorable.

Tomlin did not give any indication as to how close Smith was to actually suiting up last Saturday after missing 11 consecutive games.

"He was listed as doubtful," Tomlin said.

There are no guarantees for the Steelers as far as Smith returning this season, even if they do beat the Jets and advance to Super Bowl XLV.

Hood, the Steelers' first-round draft pick in 2009, has emerged in Smith's absence.

Overcoming a slow start due in part to a nagging injury ankle, Hood has recorded all four of his sacks in the Steelers' past five games.

He is third on the Steelers in sacks, trailing only James Harrison (13) and LaMarr Woodley (11).

"The guys that have been given an opportunity to replace (Smith), like Ziggy Hood, have more than met the standard," Tomlin said. "They deserve to continue to play, but it would be nice to add (Smith) to the tool box if we have an opportunity to do so."

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