It appears Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is going to play.
The second-year quarterback was listed as probable on New York's injury report Friday and coach Rex Ryan fully expects Sanchez to be under center, barring a late setback, to start in the team's game at Chicago on Sunday after being limited with a sore right shoulder.
"Today, I don't think there was any question that he was out to say, 'Hey look, I'm fine,' " Ryan said. "He was. He threw it good. He never grimaced or anything else. He's feeling good. He really feels good right now."
Sanchez injured the shoulder - some published reports said he suffered a slight cartilage tear - during New York's second drive in last Sunday's 22-17 win at Pittsburgh, but finished the game and played well. He was 19 of 29 for 170 yards, ran for a touchdown, and snapped an eight-game interception streak.
Sanchez was limited in practice for the third straight day, but showed improvement. During the half-hour window reporters were allowed to watch Friday, Sanchez appeared to have good velocity on his passes.
"I threw it just like I did the week before and throughout the season," Sanchez said in a statement. "The treatment has been working. I felt better than the two days prior, and I'm going to be ready to play on Sunday."
Meanwhile, defensive lineman Trevor Pryce will miss his second straight game with a hip injury, and will not make the trip with the team to Chicago.
"He's just not ready yet," Ryan said. "He's not to 100 percent. It's been a nagging thing, and hopefully he'll be ready next week."
Safety Eric Smith is listed as doubtful while he recovers from a concussion, but Ryan said he will travel with the team and could be used in an emergency. Safety James Ihedigbo is questionable with an injured right knee and high ankle sprain but is expected to play - as he did last week.
Lions put QB Stafford on IR. The Detroit Lions have placed quarterback Matthew Stafford on injured reserve with a separated right shoulder. The move ends Stafford's season with two games remaining. He played in only three games this season and 10 last year because of injuries. Stafford's shoulder was separated in the season's opener at Chicago. He later aggravated the injury.
Jags' Jones-Drew doubtful. Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew missed a third consecutive day of practice, casting doubt about his availability against Washington. Jones-Drew was listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report, but coach Jack Del Rio declined to reveal whether he expects his star to try to play against the Redskins.
Steelers all business in win. No one needs to explain this math to the Pittsburgh Steelers: It's easier to get to the Super Bowl by winning two games rather than three. On a short week with no real practice following a tough loss, the Steelers were determined not to get distracted and lose to the poor-record Carolina Panthers. Do that, and they might be adding an extra work week to their playoff schedule.
"It was huge for us," nose tackle Casey Hampton said following Pittsburgh's businesslike, 27-3 victory on Thursday night. "If you get a bye, it gets you closer to the Super Bowl. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and you want to play the least games as possible."
Maybe that's why the Steelers (11-4) put away the Panthers (2-13) in about the least time possible. Ben Roethlisberger's deep throws resulted in a touchdown, set up another, and pushed the Steelers into a 20-0 halftime lead, and the Panthers had no real chance after that.
The Steelers, bouncing back from Sunday's 22-17 loss to the Jets, will wrap up the AFC North and the first-round bye if they beat Cleveland on Jan. 2. The Browns (5-9) could end the division race even earlier than that if they upset the Ravens (10-4) at home on Sunday.
"There's some hardware out there for us, the AFC North title, and that more than anything is what we're focused on," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
Merry Christmas from the NFL. Sixteen players, eight in each conference, were fined by the NFL for illegal hits, including Atlanta defensive end Kroy Biermann and Cincinnati linebacker Dhani Jones, each docked $15,000.
Biermann got the biggest fine for helmet-to-helmet contact on Seattle quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Jones was fined for the same infraction against Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
Overall, seven players were fined for roughing the passer and three for flagrant fouls on defenseless receivers, two points of emphasis by the league this year.