Although the Steelers have declared running back Le'Veon Bell and his hyper-extended right knee out for Saturday night's game against Baltimore, they have yet to declare cornerback Ike Taylor and/or strong safety Troy Polamalu in for the playoff opener against the Ravens.
The pair has a combined 28 games of playoff experience for the Steelers, including 25 postseason starts (14 for Polamalu and 11 for Taylor).
"Me and T.P., the two old-school hard bodies," Taylor said. "Whenever our number is called we're always going to be ready. That's just how it is."
Taylor hasn't been on a field since taking himself out of the Steelers' 42-21 victory on Dec. 7 in Cincinnati due to shoulder and knee injuries. He has since been listed as dealing with shoulder/forearm problems. Polamalu hasn't played since suffering a knee injury in the Steelers' 27-20 win on Dec. 14 in Atlanta.
The Steelers have gone with William Gay and Brice McCain starting at cornerback and with Antwon Blake as the first cornerback off the bench in sub-package alignments, and with Will Allen at strong safety and Mike Mitchell at free safety the past two games.
Taylor and Polamalu were listed this week as having participated fully in practice for three consecutive days beginning on Wednesday.
But Taylor wasn't interpreting that to mean he'd be rubber-stamped back into the lineup.
"You have these young guys, meaning Blake, Gay and McCain, those boys are hot," Taylor said. "They have the kitchen on fire right now. They took all the fire extinguishers out, they took the smoke detector out, and they're ready to roll.
"So just seeing those guys from afar grow during the course of 16 weeks, it's been fun to watch."
Polamalu wasn't in the locker room and available for the post-practice media session today. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said this week he anticipated Polamalu playing against the Ravens.
"I think he will, yes," LeBeau said.
One player suggested privately it would be preposterous to suggest Polamalu wouldn't start if healthy and available. But that same player said he wasn't certain that would be the case.
"We'll see what's up," Taylor said. "'Coach T' (Mike Tomlin) has to put a leash on pretty much both of us to see where we're at."
Out: Bell (knee).
Probable: OT Mike Adams (illness), LB James Harrison (illness), QB Landry Jones (illness), NT Steve McLendon (shoulder), TE Heath Miller (not injury related), TE Michael Palmer (groin), Polamalu (knee), QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related), Taylor (shoulder/forearm).