This years first game against the Steelers lost some air when it was announced that Ben Roethlisberger will not be playing in the game. It is familiar news for Pittsburgh as many of their star players have been in and out all year with injuries. Big Ben is dealing with a shoulder ailment and a potentially dangerous rib injury. His displaced rib is apparently pressing against his aorta. Obviously a scary injury, and one that seems likely to hold out him out of the second match-up as well. In other Steelers injury news, Antonio Brown is doubtful to play as well. The deep threat would have been limited by Byron Leftwich under center, but it’s just another weapon missing for the Steelers offense. Rashard Mendenhall is likely to start Sundays game which is welcome news. He and Issac Redman will both be active, which almost ensures a run heavy game for Pittsburgh. Baltimore has struggled against the run in recent weeks, but did recover well last week against Oakland. It will be interesting to see which squad comes out this week.
The Ravens had some bad news this week, when Jimmy Smith had surgery for his injured groin. That will likely take him out for most of the regular season, if not the whole thing. To compensate, they signed veteran corner Chris Johnson, formerly of the Raiders. Johnson hasn’t played since early last year. He doesn’t figure to be a major acquisition, but with the Ravens corner situation he could be a starter before too long. For now, Cary Williams is the number one with Chykie Brown and Corey Graham as the top reserves. Asa Jackson may have to be forced into some action as well.
The Ravens better hope the pass rush is in full swing this Sunday. Haloti Ngata was active but didn’t get off the sideline last week. They will badly need him in this one. Pernell McPhee will be active for this week, which would be a great time for him to break out of his season long slump. Ed Reed’s latest injury to his battered shoulder doesn’t appear too serious, and won’t take him out of action.
This game has taken a turn from a game the Ravens will have to battle to win to a game they are expected to win. This is a big break for the Ravens, but the Steelers always play Baltimore close under any circumstance. Baltimore is 4-0 with Roethlisberger on the sideline, but three of those wins were decided by 3 points. This won’t be easy, regardless of who is in for either team. Both teams have dealt with injuries, and both teams have squeaked out close wins. Look for another battle Sunday night.