--Coach Mike Tomlin may have been trying a psychological ploy on his own team when he remarked how tough it would be for the Steelers to play on four days' rest because they're so old.
"It's a quick turnaround, particularly for a veteran football team," Tomlin said. "We've got to preserve our guys in as many ways as we can because quite honestly working on this kind of week, you've got to acknowledge that it's an advantage for the Carolina Panthers. They're a younger team than we are."
--Aaron Smith was fitted for a brace, and he has started lifting weights as he awaits word from doctors and another MRI to see when he can resume practicing. Smith has been out since Oct. 24, when he tore his triceps and underwent surgery. He will not play in the final two regular-season games.
"I feel great, good, further along than any of my other injuries at this point," Smith said. "It's how the body heals and how fast it can do it. I haven't set a timetable when or how."
--The Steelers' offensive line jumped three spots in the New York Life Protection index, moving into the 26th position for the season -- still one of the lowest indexed teams that has qualified for the playoffs.
BY THE NUMBERS
22-5 -- The Steelers' record against NFC opponents over the past 27 games, including a 2-1 mark this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I don't like how it unfolded. You feel like you're crawling in on your belly." -- Coach Mike Tomlin, on securing a playoff berth while losing to the Jets last Sunday.
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