On the Steelers: Woodley predicts Bengals, Patriots will 'lay down'
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley on his team's postseason hopes: "No one wants to see Pittsburgh in there. That's just how it is. Everybody knows we're a dangerous team once we get into the playoffs no matter how we played throughout the whole year.
Share with others:
Linebacker LaMarr Woodley was not in the best of moods yesterday. He registered obvious disappointment at not making the Pro Bowl, then predicted Cincinnati and New England would conspire to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs.
"Cincinnati is probably going to go into New York and lay down for the Jets and not play them hard just because they don't want to see Pittsburgh in there," Woodley said, "because they know if we get into the playoffs we're a dangerous team."
The Steelers need at least the Bengals to beat the Jets or the Patriots to beat the Houston Texans in order to have a chance to make the playoffs, and they probably need both those games to go their way.
"All of them will lay down," Woodley said. "No one wants to see Pittsburgh in there. That's just how it is. Everybody knows we're a dangerous team once we get into the playoffs no matter how we played throughout the whole year."
The Steelers need to win in Miami to have a chance at a playoff spot with a 9-7 record and also must have one of three scenarios take place:
• Houston loses or ties, and Jets lose or tie.
• Houston losses or ties and Baltimore (at Oakland) loses or ties.
• Jets lose or tie and Baltimore loses or ties and Denver (home vs. Kansas City) loses or ties.
Woodley leads the Steelers with 11.5 sacks, third in the AFC. He was named the conference defensive player of the week yesterday. Yet he was not voted one of three linebackers to the AFC Pro Bowl team and he was not happy about it.
"I guess I have to play harder and maybe next year have 21 sacks," Woodley said. "Have to put some hot numbers out there to get noticed.
"If you have a great performance, you're rewarded at the end of the year, but that's not happening. I guess you really have to perform at a great high level."
Of his 11.5 sacks, 9.5 have come in the past seven games.
Safety Troy Polamalu went through a limited practice and acknowledged it would not be reasonable for him to play Sunday in Miami after a six-game layoff with a knee injury.
"For me, no, but I haven't done it before," Polamalu said.
With a brace on the left knee that was injured Nov. 22 in Kansas City, Polamalu pulled on his No. 43 jersey and helmet and practiced with his teammates for the first time. He has missed 10 full games and most of two others with two separate injuries to his left knee. His MCL was sprained in the first quarter of the opener and his PCL was sprained early in his fourth game back.
Coach Mike Tomlin reported the week after the game in Kansas City that the PCL injury was not as serious as first thought and listed Polamalu as "questionable" for several weeks on the injury report. Tomlin later acknowledged that the first prognosis was overly optimistic.
Polamalu, though, said his lengthy absence is about what he was first told to expect.
"I think this is honestly what they expected with the original diagnosis of the second injury," Polamalu said.
Polamalu said there is more to it than the injury itself healing.
"Whenever you take this much time off it's kind of a mix of everything. It's trying to get your nervous system right, trying to get muscle bulk from the atrophy, trying to get some strength back."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was not voted to the Pro Bowl but there is a good chance he will play in the game and possibly a few more of his teammates will join him.
Roethlisberger along with Woodley and tight end Heath Miller were selected as first alternates at their positions for the AFC team in the Jan. 31 game in Miami.
Each would join the squad if one player at their positions bows out. Because no player from the AFC team in the Super Bowl will play in the Pro Bowl, there is a good possibility one or all could join teammates James Harrison and Casey Hampton, who have been named to the all-star squad.
The quarterbacks on the AFC Pro Bowl team are Peyton Manning of No. 1 playoff seed Indianapolis, Philip Rivers of No. 2 seed San Diego and Tom Brady of AFC East champion New England.
The tight ends are Dallas Clark of Indianapolis and Antonio Gates of San Diego. The outside linebackers are Harrison, Elvis Dumervil of Denver and Brian Cushing of Houston.
There's also the likelihood that many of the players on the losing team in the AFC championship game Jan. 24 might bow out of the Pro Bowl game the following Sunday.
"Those things are always nice," said Miller, who set the team record for his position with 71 receptions.
"You take it as a compliment. I won't lose any sleep because I didn't make it, or the other way around."
First Published December 31, 2009 12:00 am