Roethlisberger has rib injury too, out vs. Ravens

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Roethlisberger has rib injury too, out vs. Ravens

PITTSBURGH (AP) Right arm tucked into a black sling, weary eyes betraying a decided lack of sleep, Ben Roethlisberger tried to stay positive after the worst - and by far the most harrowing - injury of his career.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback believes he can return this season despite spraining his right shoulder and suffering what he called a dislocated rib in Monday night's overtime win against Kansas City.

He's just not sure when he'll be ready. And his medical team appears nowhere close to figuring out how exactly to get him there.

``From what (the doctor) said he's trying to talk to experts because there is no case study over the exact same thing,'' Roethlisberger said Wednesday. ``We're just trying to talk to people ... because we don't know.''

All Roethlisberger knows for certain is that doctors are concerned the rib - which he injured while getting sacked by a pair of Kansas City linebackers in the third quarter on Monday - could puncture his aorta if jostled around.

He also knows he'll be a spectator indefinitely while the surging Steelers (6-3) try to track down AFC North-leading Baltimore (7-2). The rivals meet twice over the next three weeks, with the first showdown coming Sunday night at Heinz Field. Veteran backup Byron Leftwich will take the snaps in Roethlisberger's place, looking for his first win as a starter in six years.

``I'm not going to go out there and try and be Ben,'' Leftwich said. ``We see the game differently. He's physically able to do some things that I can't do but that doesn't mean I can't go out there and do my job.''

The Steelers have been forced to play with Roethlisberger occasionally over the last nine seasons, going 8-5 without their franchise cornerstone since 2004. Four of those losses, however, have come against the Ravens.

Still, Roethlisberger remains optimistic he'll be back to work at some point over the next seven weeks. Asked if he thinks the injury is season-ending, the two-time Super Bowl winner shrugged his one good shoulder and attempted to remain upbeat.

``I don't think so, I don't know though but I'm not a medical expert,'' Roethlisberger said. ``I just know I'm going to do what I can to get back.''

At the moment, doing nothing appears to be the smartest course after his season came to a stunning halt early in the third quarter against the Chiefs.

Roethlisberger was stepping up in the pocket trying to extend a third-down play when Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston wrapped up his legs and teammate Tamba Hali drove all of his 265 pounds into Roethlisberger's chest and slammed him to the turf. The quarterback's right arm dug into his side at the moment of impact, dislocating the rib and sending a jagged edge perilously close to the aorta.

``When I hit the ground is kind of when I felt something not right, like a crunch or a crack,'' Roethlisberger said. ``It's kind of hard to explain.''

What's easy to explain is the pain, which Roethlisberger described as ``nine on a scale of 1-10.'' Most of the misery is coming from the rib and he joked he'll likely have to hold his son - who is due to arrive sometime in the next few weeks - with in his left arm instead of his right.

Unless Roethlisberger learns to throw with his left arm too, Pittsburgh's playoff chances will rest with Leftwich. The former first-round pick hasn't started a game in three years and hasn't won one since 2006. He went 7 of 14 for 73 yards in relief against the Chiefs, leading Pittsburgh to a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

``My first few plays I felt like everybody was moving faster than me,'' Leftwich said. ``Maybe that is because I'm slower than everybody. When you ain't out there, let's just be honest, it just takes awhile to get back.''

A full week of practice and the fact he's spent four of the last five seasons as Roethlisberger's primary backup means Leftwich isn't exactly starting from scratch.

Early in his career, Leftwich was one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league. Taken with the seventh overall pick by Jacksonville in the 2003 draft, Leftwich led the Jaguars to a playoff berth in 2005 before things fell apart. He lost his starting job to David Garrard a year later then bounced around between Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay before returning to the Steelers for good in 2010.

Leftwich missed all but one game in 2010 due to a knee injury and spent all of 2011 on injured reserve after breaking his arm during a preseason game. Yet the Steelers have kept him around because of his close relationship with Roethlisberger and his arm, which remains one of the strongest in the league. Leftwich actually overthrew speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace on a fly pattern against the Chiefs, a rare feat.

``We have all the confidence in the world in Byron,'' Wallace said. ``He's been in this league a long time, and he's played a lot of games. We just need to work on some things in practice this week with him at quarterback, and I'm sure we'll be ready to go by the time the game comes around.''

Roethlisberger will be there in Leftwich's ear offering assistance when necessary, just as Leftwich has done for him through the years.

``He can make every throw on the football field,'' Roethlisberger said. ``He's going to do just as good if not better.''

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NOTES: DE Brett Keisel (shoulder), LT Max Starks (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf), RT Marcus Gilbert (ankle), WR Antonio Brown (ankle) LB Chris Carter (abdomen) and Roethlisberger did not practice on Wednesday ... S Ryan Clark was limited in practice after sustaining a concussion against the Chiefs. Clark will meet with team doctors on Thursday for further evaluation.

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Reynolds says he committed "sin" of asking ex-Steeler for advice

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Reynolds says he committed "sin" of asking ex-Steeler for advice

OWINGS MILLS – Nobody has to tell Ravens rookie Keenan Reynolds about the intensity of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Reynolds admitted Friday that when seeking advice on switching from quarterback in college to wide receiver in the NFL, he asked former Steelers star Hines Ward for advice.

“I know that’s like a cardinal sin in this building,” Reynolds said after his first day of Ravens rookie minicamp. “We got to talk before the draft, to ease everybody’s mind.”

Ravens fans will certainly forgive Reynolds, especially if Ward offers helpful hints. He has also been consulting former Washington Redskin and current CSN analyst Brian Mitchell, which could help him progress as well.

As a sixth-round pick, Reynolds hopes to make an immediate impact as a receiver-returner with the Ravens, after a brilliant career playing quarterback at Navy.

Reynolds got encouraging news off the field this week, when Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, said he would do everything in his power to make sure Reynolds’ Navy commitments would not interfere with playing for the Ravens.

Reynolds said he had not received a further update on the Navy’s plans for him. But a precedent for Reynolds playing NFL football right away has already been set. Patriots long snapper Joe Cordona, who was Reynolds’ teammate at Navy, played his entire rookie season with New England last year while also working at a Naval Preparatory Academy in Rhode Island.

Cordona has been a sounding board for Reynolds.

“I’ve been blowing his phone up this whole process,” Reynolds said. “I was blowing him up on draft day. He has really helped, and his experience, obviously, being able to serve and play, has been really helpful.”

Reynolds has known for months that his NFL future would probably not be at quarterback.

“When I got invited to the (East-West) Shrine game, I saw that I wasn’t a quarterback anymore,” said Reynolds, who was listed as a running back for that game.

But Reynolds is not complaining, and he knows many people are rooting for him.

“This is an opportunity to pursue the dream at the next level, and I’m embracing it with everything I can,” Reynolds said.

Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

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Ravens assign jersey numbers, Ronnie Stanley to wear No. 79

OWINGS MILLS -- For football jersey lovers, the Ravens have assigned numbers to their 11 draft picks. They are as follows:

6 – WR Keenan Reynolds

43 – CB Tavon Young

48 – RB Kenneth Dixon

49 – CB Maurice Canady

51 – OLB Kamalei Correa

72 – OT Alex Lewis

79 – OT Ronnie Stanley

81 – WR Chris Moore

91 – OLB Matt Judon

92 – DE Bronson Kaufusi

Correa will be wearing the number worn by former Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who signed with the Buccaneers this offseason. Kaufusi will wear the number once worn by former Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Haloti Ngata.

Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

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Four more draft picks sign with Ravens, raising total to six

OWINGS MILLS -- The Ravens announced the signing of four more draft picks Friday -- OLB Kamalei Correa, DT Willie Henry, OT Alex Lewis, and WR Chris Moore.

That meant six of the 11 Ravens’ 11 draft picks were under contract at the start of Friday’s two-day rookie minicamp. OLB Matt Judon and RB Kenneth Dixon had already signed.

Correa was drafted in the second round, the first of three players the Ravens targeted to improve their pass rush. Lewis, a fourth-rounder, is expected to compete for a backup spot at either tackle position. Moore is a deep threat wide receiver who has a chance to earn immediate playing time. Henry is a run-stopping defensive lineman who has a chance to be part of the defensive tackle rotation.

First-round pick, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, still had not signed as of early Friday afternoon. However, first-round signings traditionally take the longest.

The Ravens also announced the signing of 11 undrafted free agents:

G Jarell Broxton, Baylor

DT Travon Coley, Florida Atlantic

C Anthony Fabiano, Harvard

ILB  Cavellis Luckett, Middle Tennessee St.  

K Will Lutz, Georgia St.

OT Stephane Nembot, Colorado

OLB Victor Ochi, Stony Brook

OLB Mario Ojemudia, Michigan

ILB Patrick Onwuasor, Portland St.

DT Michael Pierce, Samford

C Matt Skura, Duke