Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu could miss the remainder of the regular season after aggravating his strained right Achilles tendon.
Polamalu, however, could return for the playoffs.
The length of Polamalu's absence depends on the team's playoff positioning. The Steelers (10-3) hold a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AFC North.
The Steelers face the New York Jets (9-4) on Sunday, then close the regular season against Carolina (1-12) and Cleveland (5-8). They have only three days off before facing Carolina, possibly not enough time for Polamalu's injury to sufficiently heal.
The Cleveland game Jan. 2 might be meaningless for playoff positioning, and the Steelers could opt to sit not only Polamalu but also other starters.
Polamalu is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Jets.
Free safety Ryan Clark practiced at strong safety this week. Ryan Mundy filled Clark's position in a recent practice.
This hurts IDP owners and those using Pittsburgh as a team defense, but the Steelers remain a great play the rest of the way.