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AP Source: Steelers QB Leftwich has rib injury

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AP Source: Steelers QB Leftwich has rib injury

PITTSBURGH (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers are running out of quarterbacks with healthy ribs.

A person familiar with the injury told The Associated Press quarterback Byron Leftwich injured his ribs in the first quarter of Sunday night's 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and will not start next week in Cleveland. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not officially commented on Leftwich's status.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the decision.

Leftwich is the second Pittsburgh quarterback in as many weeks to go down. Starter Ben Roethlisberger is out indefinitely after spraining his right shoulder and dislocating his first rib in a 16-13 overtime victory against the Kansas City Chiefs last Monday.

The Steelers (6-4) will likely turn to 37-year-old backup Charlie Batch against the Browns (2-8). Batch is 5-2 while as a substitute starter over the past decade, including a 27-0 win over St. Louis last December.

Making his first start in three years, Leftwich completed 18 of 39 passes for 201 yards and an interception. He also ran for a 31-yard touchdown in the first quarter, a play that ended with Leftwich clutching his chest.

The 32-year-old Leftwich remained in the game but took a beating, getting sacked three times and drilled a handful of others. He appeared in obvious pain on several occasions and had his ribs examined by team medical personnel in the fourth quarter while Batch warmed up on the sideline.

Leftwich did not miss a snap but labored throwing the ball. The former first round pick has one of the strongest arms in the NFL but was short on several passes to wide-open receivers in the second half as Pittsburgh's four-game winning streak came to a halt.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin downplayed any disappointment in Leftwich's play, saying he thought Leftwich was ``great'' on a night the Steelers recorded their lowest point total at home since a 3-0 victory over the Dolphins in the middle of a torrential rain storm five years ago.

``He sustained some hits, but that's football,'' Tomlin said, ``particularly when you're talking about this matchup.''

Leftwich, who did not take off his uniform until after reporters had left the locker room, was more focused on the offense's uneven play than his physical condition.

The Ravens did more than give themselves a nice two-game cushion over Pittsburgh (6-4) with six weeks remaining in the season, they also exposed the Steelers' flaws with Roethlisberger sidelined indefinitely with shoulder and rib injuries.

Even worse, the Steelers converted just 5 of 17 (30 percent) third-down opportunities, well off their 49-percent conversion rate with Roethlisberger.

``We just never could put two, three, four, five, six plays together,'' Leftwich said. ``We would make a big play and then we were right back to third-and-9, third-and-8 ... You've just got to be better on first and second down.''

The seventh overall pick by Jacksonville in 2003 has struggled to stay healthy through the years. He sat out all of last season after breaking his left arm in the preseason and was limited to just one game in 2010 due to a knee injury.

Now it's Batch's turn to keep Pittsburgh's postseason chances afloat. He beat out Jerrod Johnson for the team's third quarterback spot in training camp and while he lacks the arm strength of Leftwich and Roethlisberger, his accuracy and quick release should help him in offensive coordinator Todd Haley's short-passing attack.

Batch warmed up briefly on the sideline after Leftwich took a blindside hit from Baltimore safety James Ihedigbo midway through the fourth quarter on Sunday. Batch last played in a shutout victory over the Rams last Christmas Eve, completing 15 of 22 passes for 208 yards and an interception as the Steelers cruised.

``Charlie's a great quarterback, and he's also been in the league for some time now,'' Pittsburgh cornerback Keenan Lewis said. ``He knows the offense upside down (inside out), so if we have to rely on Charlie, we know he could get in there and win games.''

The Steelers will need to bring in another quarterback as insurance. They let Johnson go at the end of camp and released 2006 Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith following a brief stint with the team during the spring.

A rematch with the Ravens looms in two weeks, though Pittsburgh's hopes of catching the Ravens for the AFC North title have all but evaporated. The Steelers would likely need to win in Baltimore - where they're just 2-7 in the last nine meetings - and have the Ravens stumble to the finish to host a playoff game.

It's a notion the Steelers cling to, one that seems at least remotely plausible if the defense can continue to thrive. While Baltimore was busy harassing Leftwich, Pittsburgh was doing the same to Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Ravens managed a season-low 200 yards of total offense as the Steelers shut down running back Ray Rice - 20 carries for 40 yards - and never let speedy wide receiver Torrey Smith to get loose.

``We knew that it was going to be a defensive game coming in,'' linebacker Larry Foote said. ``It normally is. We mixed up a lot of blitzes and zone. Our back end did a great job.''

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Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

Suggs, Smith among six Ravens named to PUP list

The Ravens announced six players placed on the physically unable to perform list Saturday - linebacker Terrell Suggs, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Breshad Perriman, linebacker Elvis Dumervil, running back Trent Richardson, and cornerback Jumal Rolle.

Quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), and cornerback Will Davis (knee) were not placed on PUP, indicating they were ready for the team’s first full-team training camp practice Thursday.

Any player on the PUP list can be activated and return to practice at any point prior to the regular season. Once a player is placed on the regular-season PUP list, he must sit out at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

RELATED: WILL SMITH'S BODY BETRAY HIM AGAIN?

Rolle (Achilles injury) is expected to miss the entire season. Here’s the breakdown on the other five PUP list players:

Suggs – He still has not fully recovered from his season-ending Achilles injury suffered in Week 1 last September. Suggs is scheduled to meet with the media Wednesday, where further details about his progress should be revealed.

Smith Sr. – Also recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury suffered in November. Smith said he would not care if he missed the entire preseason. His priority is to be ready by Week 1.

Perriman – He suffered a knee injury during minicamp which did not require season-ending surgery. However, Perriman has still not played a preseason or regular season game since being drafted in the first round in 2015. After two knee injuries in two years, the Ravens have every reason to be cautious with Perriman until they think he is ready to return.

Dumervil – He had offseason foot surgery after playing through pain last season. Dumervil missed mandatory minicamp, but did not sound concerned about being ready for Week 1.

Richardson – His lingering hamstring issue could ruin his bid for an NFL comeback. The Ravens are deep at running back, and Richardson needs to get healthy to have any chance to win a roster spot.

MORE RAVENS: FLACCO HAS LONG ODDS FOR MVP

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Best case, worst case scenario for WR Steve Smith Sr.

Best case, worst case scenario for WR Steve Smith Sr.

Clifton Brown and Bo Smolka are taking turns putting 25 key Ravens under the microscope leading up to veterans reporting to training camp. They’ll speculate on a best-case, worst-case scenario for at least one player every day, concluding with quarterback Joe Flacco on July 25.

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Steve Smith Sr., 37-year-old wide receiver

Best-case scenario for Smith:

He enjoys a typical 1,000-yard season, and he remains the Ravens’ top receiver.

Why it could happen:

It’s dangerous to bet against Smith making a full recovery from Achilles surgery, even in the twilight of his career. Few athletes perform with more of a chip on their shoulder than Smith, who is always driven to prove doubters wrong. He’s a technician at route running, he studies film diligently, and he’s a master at using his body and hands to ward off defenders. Smith never relied on pure speed to be a top receiver. So even if he’s a tad less explosive, Smith has the talent to end his career playing at a high level.

Worst-case scenario for Smith:

Smith’s body betrays him, and the Ravens’ depth at wide receiver reduces his playing time and role.

Why it could happen:

Father Time is undefeated, and may finally be calling for Smith. The older an athlete gets, the harder it gets to recover from injuries. With their deep group of tight ends, and the addition of wide receivers Mike Wallace and rookie Chris Moore, the Ravens may not be as dependent on Smith as they have been. Even if Smith is healthy, his role in the offense might be less prominent.

RELATED: FLACCO HAS LONG ODDS FOR MVP

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Flacco has same MVP odds as Winston and Mariota

Flacco has same MVP odds as Winston and Mariota

Joe Flacco has been a Super Bowl MVP and has won 10 playoff games. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have played one NFL season.

However, all three of those quarterbacks have been given the same odds (100/1) of winning next season’s MVP award by sportsbook Bovada.lv.

People who think Flacco is an elite quarterback may view that as disrespect. But the Bovada.lv odds throw even more shade at Flacco.

Sixteen quarterbacks are given a better chance of winning the MVP award in 2016 than Flacco. Some of the names you would expect, like Aaron Rodgers, who is the favorite at 4/1, followed by Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1), and Tom Brady (9/1).

But do Blake Bortles (66/1) of the Jaguars or Brock Osweiler of the Texans (66/1) really have a better chance of winning the MVP than Flacco? According to Bovada.lv they do. That’s also an indication that not much is expected from the Ravens overall after their 5-11 season. The better your team does, the better your chances of winning the MVP.

Newton won the MVP last year starting at 50/1 odds. So if you believe in Flacco and the Ravens, those 100/1 MVP odds for Flacco may look like an enticing play.

RELATED: Can Dumervil lead a rebirth of Ravens's pass rush?