Brad Smith to play for Jets; return kicks

By Marc A. Greenberg

Back from his injury, New York Jets wide receiver/kick returner Brad Smith will be back for the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And he will be returning kicks.

Special teams coach Mike Westhoff said that, barring any setbacks, Smith will “absolutely” return kicks on Sunday against the Steelers.

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 and was just as effective, if not more so. Cromartie showed more speed than Smith and set up the Jets huge win against the Colts with a 47-yard return, which resulted in Nick Folk’s game-winning 32-yard field goal.

Cromartie averaged 31.8 yards on six kickoffs in the playoffs.

Smith does have a TD return against the Steelers already this season, returning the opening kickoff of the Jets’ 22-17 road win over the Steelers on Dec. 19 back for a 97-yard touchdown.

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