Tomlin, Ryan show mutual respect

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers' Mike Tomlin was informed Tuesday that Jets counterpart Rex Ryan said Tomlin was one of his favorite coaches.

A smile came to Tomlin's face. Then, he returned the compliment.

"I love Rex," Tomlin said. "Rex has a lot of fun with you guys [the media]. But when you pass all of those things, man, Rex is a great football coach. He has a pulse of his football team, does a great job of motivating them, and he's very sound schematically. His glass is always half full and I appreciate that."

Things are already warm and fuzzy between the Steelers and Jets compared to last week's heated AFC divisional playoff games. Do not expect any T-shirts with obscene gestures this week or threats to ruin players’ careers.

The outspoken Ryan and normally low-key Tomlin usually have different approaches. But it appears both are taking the same tact heading into the AFC Championship Game. The AFC East and AFC North trash-talking is over for the rest of this season, and now the sole focus for Pittsburgh and New York is advancing to Super Bowl XLV.

Ryan and Tomlin set the tone for the week, and that likely will permeate down to the players.

Here are some other quick notes from Tomlin's news conference:

  • In terms of injuries, Tomlin says the Steelers are in "great shape." The biggest concerns this week are starting cornerback Bryant McFadden (abs) and defensive end Aaron Smith, who is still working to return from triceps surgery. McFadden will be limited in practice this week, while Smith will practice and is making progress.

  • If Smith is healthy enough to play, he won't start Sunday. Tomlin said Ziggy Hood has been solid. And after not playing for nearly two months, it would be risky to play Smith too many snaps this early.

  • Tomlin said the running game is very important for the Jets and a big part of their "personality." Pittsburgh is No. 1 in the NFL at stopping the run and it will be strength versus strength.