Jets' Brad Smith will play vs. Steelers

Updated: January 21, 2011, 9:20 AM ET
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets wide receiver/kick returner Brad Smith will be back for the AFC Championship Game, according to special-teams coach Mike Westhoff.

Westhoff said Thursday that, barring any setbacks, Smith will "absolutely" return kicks Sunday against the Steelers.

Also, Jason Taylor returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday after sitting out Wednesday with a concussion. Head coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday that Taylor had been cleared to play.

"I took a little hit in the second half [of the Jets' win over New England on Sunday], but I'm good," Taylor said.

Smith injured his groin in the Jets' 17-16 win over Indianapolis in the wild-card round. He missed the Jets' 28-21 upset win over the Patriots in the divisional round.

Antonio Cromartie returned kicks in place of Smith. Cromartie had a pivotal 47-yard return that gave the Jets great field position in their final drive against the Colts, which resulted in Nick Folk's game-winning 32-yard field goal. Cromartie averaged 31.8 yards on six kickoff returns.

Smith practiced Thursday for the second straight day and "looked good," according to Westhoff.

Smith returned the opening kickoff of the Jets' 22-17 road win over the Steelers on Dec. 19 for a 97-yard touchdown. In the regular season, Smith was the second-leading kickoff returner in the NFL with a 28.6-yard average and two touchdowns.

Smith practiced on a limited basis last week but was inactive for the New England game. The versatile playmaker also takes snaps in the Jets' Wildcat package. The Jets largely went away from the Wildcat against New England, trying it only once with LaDainian Tomlinson.

Westhoff said that Cromartie will continue to practice as a returner in case Smith suffers a set-back.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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