Defensive end Aaron Smith had an MRI on his torn left triceps and was cleared by team doctors to start lifting weights, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.
"He's doing pretty good," Tomlin said. "We're going to take another MRI in about two weeks or so and see where that takes us, but we're encouraged by his progress. There's no setbacks in his recovery. It's time to take the next step and now start tossing a few weights around, which is good news."
Tomlin is optimistic that Smith could return in time for the playoffs, which is why the Steelers didn't place him on season-ending injured reserve.
"That's been our intentions all along," Tomlin said. "This is not charity by any stretch. We're not in that business. We're in the business of winning football games. We thought it was a possibility that this man could make it back and help us. He's doing what he's supposed to do; we're doing what we're supposed to do, which is win. Hopefully, the two things converge and meet."
• Flozell Adams left the Baltimore game with what Tomlin called a "mild" high-ankle sprain, which could limit the starting right tackle in practice this week. Tomlin said Trai Essex is the frontrunner to start if Adams can't play. Tomlin added that the Steelers will continue to limit strong safety Troy Polamalu's participation in practice early this week as a precaution.
• Tomlin said he was "a little uncomfortable" finishing Sunday's game with one tight end and six offensive linemen and was asked if wide receiver Hines Ward was a realistic replacement at tight end. "We have a bunch of volunteers," Tomlin said. "It doesn't necessarily mean I want to use them." Tomlin, however, didn't discount defensive end Brett Keisel. "He probably would be the first place I would go," Tomlin said. "He's an awesome athlete."
• Tomlin said Shaun Suisham's 45-yard field goal into the wind was actually 2 yards beyond their agreed-upon range in warm-ups, but that he gave the kicker a "competitor's opportunity" and was rewarded. "That wind was significant at that end of the stadium," Tomlin said, "so it really wasn't a surprise that Baltimore didn't attempt a field goal at 48, 49 yards in that same direction. Forty-five was pushing it."