Miller expected back vs. Panthers

The Steelers anticipate having tight end Heath Miller back in the line-up this week after he missed the last two games with a concussion.

Miller practiced last week on Wednesday and Friday, but sat out Thursday and missed the Jets game.

As far as safety Troy Polamalu, who was sidelined against the Jets as well with an ankle injury, his status isn't known as Coach Mike Tomlin was still waiting on an update on his health.

"It's still early in the week in terms of where he is and his availability to practice and ultimately play," said Tomlin.

In other injury news Aaron Smith is being fitted for a shoulder brace and his status as far as returning to practice is still up in the air. Arnaz Battle suffered a shoulder and rib contusion against the Jets and it will be a wait-and-see approach with him on a short week of preparation.


There isn't much time this week to prepare for the Carolina Panthers, or to recover physically from Sunday's game against the Jets. The Steelers did not practice on Monday, but will on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We are very conscious about how we prepare this week," said Tomlin. "We have to prepare as smart as we can."

While it's tough on both teams to rebound on short, Tomlin thinks the Panthers have the advantage.

"We have to preserve our guys in as many ways as we can because quite honestly working on this kind of week, you have to acknowledge that it's advantage Carolina Panthers," said Tomlin. "They are a younger team than we are. Physically they are capable of bouncing back faster, no question. So we have to prepare and prepare extremely smart, and put our veteran outfit in the best position we can to play effective football on Thursday night."


The Steelers will return to the playoffs this year, after missing out in 2009 and while Tomlin is happy with that accomplishment, it's too soon to even start thinking about the post-season.

"Of course we are excited about being ensured an opportunity to advance into the playoffs," said Tomlin. "I don't like how it unfolded. You feel like you are crawling in on your belly but we have two weeks to do something about that.

"Our focus moving forward is on Carolina this week. All of the goals that we have set out for ourselves are still attainable. We have to play ball this week. We have to play winning football. I think a division title is in our sights if we handle our business but is starts with playing good winning football on Thursday night. All the other things are hardware that you pick up along the way."

Tomlin was asked during his weekly press conference to talk about the importance of getting a bye during the post-season, something he wasn't interested in addressing at this point.

"I won't speak to it," said Tomlin. "I will only speak to preparing for Carolina."


The annual Children's Hospital Free Care Fund collection will be held at the Steelers-Panthers game on Dec. 23.  Volunteers will be inside Heinz Field gates accepting monetary donations.  Please be as generous as possible to help the kids at Children's have a happier holiday.

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