Quick Links

Roethlisberger has sprained shoulder

201211122331846842086-p2.jpeg

Roethlisberger has sprained shoulder

PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Roethlisberger left Heinz Field on Monday night with his sprained right shoulder in a sling. When he walks back in ready to play is anybody's guess.

Tomlin called Pittsburgh's franchise quarterback ``questionable'' but otherwise offered little detail Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Roethlisberger was pounded into the ground by Kansas City Chiefs linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston in the third quarter of Pittsburgh's 16-13 overtime victory.

``He is being evaluated,'' Tomlin said. ``Obviously this injury puts his participation in the questionable category for this week.''

Roethlisberger left the game and went to the hospital to for an MRI-exam. He underwent more tests on Tuesday to determine the severity of the sprain to the sternoclavicular (SC) joint in his throwing shoulder.

The SC joint connects the collarbone to the sternum. Treatment can range from a few days of rest and ice to as much as 4-6 weeks according to Dr. Victor Khabie, chief of sports medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

``You could tape it, you could do that stuff but the reality is those ligaments just have to heal,'' Khabie said. ``If you go throwing, you slow down the healing process.''

Roethlisberger was scrambling in the pocket to buy time on Pittsburgh's first possession of the second half when Houston wrapped up Roethlisberger's legs and Hali slammed into him, driving the quarterback's right side into the damp Heinz Field turf. Roethlisberger didn't appear to be hurt walking off the field but quickly made his way to the locker room before leaving the stadium with the game still in progress.

``It didn't seem like a tough hit ... but he came to the sideline and next thing you know he was gone,'' Pittsburgh left tackle Max Starks said. ``I'm hoping it was nothing serious. Honestly it didn't seem like it.''

If Roethlisberger can't play, the Steelers (6-3) will turn veteran backup Byron Leftwich, who completed 7 of 14 passes for 73 yards in relief as Pittsburgh won its fourth straight game thanks to Shaun Suisham's 23-yard field goal 51 seconds into the extra period.

The 32-year-old Leftwich hasn't started a game since 2009, when he went 0-3 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His last victory came on Oct. 8, 2006 when the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the New York Jets 41-0.

The former first round pick has spent most of the last six years as a backup while dealing with a series of significant injuries. He missed all of last season after breaking his arm in a preseason game and threw seven regular season passes in 2010 after hurting his knee at the end of training camp.

Though there was a bit of rust after getting pressed into service, Leftwich did guide the Steelers to a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter.

``I try to prepare as if I am the starter every week,'' Leftwich said. ``Nothing will change. I wish Ben the best. I hope he is healthy. Other than that I will be ready to go.''

Leftwich insists he has mastered offensive coordinator Todd Haley's playbook and Leftwich's teammates are hardly concerned if he's under center on Sunday.

``We don't have a true rookie back there that's never taken a snap before,'' Starks said. ``We feel good about who we have back there if it is Byron. We'll move forward and wait Ben's return if that's the case.''

Roethlisberger isn't the only big name that could be out on Sunday. Safety Troy Polamalu continues to be plagued by a right calf injury and Tomlin described him ``doubtful'' to play against the Ravens. Safety Ryan Clark sustained a concussion for the second time in three games when he took a knee to the head from Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, though Tomlin said it appears Clark is fine.

Maybe, but it's not exactly the way the Steelers wanted to be heading into a crucial three-game stretch that includes two games against the hated Ravens in three weeks.

Baltimore (7-2) appeared ready to run away with the division after Pittsburgh stumbled to a 2-3 start. The Steelers have ripped off four straight to draw within a game and can take firm control of the AFC North at home on Sunday.

The prospect of doing it without their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback makes that task more difficult, but not impossible.

``B-Left has been here a long time,'' defensive end Brett Keisel said. ``If he's in there, we expect to keep rolling.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Ravens kick return job still up in the air

Ravens kick return job still up in the air

With two preseason games left, the Ravens appear to have little clarity in their efforts to find a kick return specialist, and although Michael Campanaro had all three punt return chances against the Colts last weekend, the Ravens aren't ready yet to declare the job his.

Last year's leading returners — Kaelin Clay and Jeremy Ross — are no longer with the team.

RELATED: MAKING SENSE OF FLACCO VS. THE LIONS

Coach John Harbaugh, the former special teams coach that he is, blasted the Ravens special teams play against the Colts, both in kick returns and in kick coverage.

"We kicked the ball to them, and they kicked the ball to us, and we got our butts kicked," Harbaugh said after the game. "That's unacceptable."

Harbaugh seemed particularly agitated about the Ravens kickoff coverage; the Colts averaged 28.0 yards per kick return, nearly 10 yards better than the Ravens (18.8).

Earlier this week, Harbaugh declared, "We have not found our punt returner or our kick returner yet."

As for kick returns, three running backs — Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West and Stephen Houston — returned kicks at Indianapolis last week with unimpressive results. West had the longest return at 23 yards, and two returns left the Ravens inside their 20-yard line.

The Ravens are giving both West and Dixon a long look as kick returner — Houston is a longshot to make the team — with the idea that a fourth running back could also contribute in the return game. Rookie Tavon Young has also been given reps as a kick returner, though he missed the Colts game with a hamstring injury.

Campanaro headlines a group of punt return candidates that includes former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds. Campanaro had all three punt return chances against the Colts, with one fair catch and one 21-yard return. Reynolds, who has had an inconsistent camp as a returner, served on the punt coverage team and had a tackle against the Colts but was not back as the return man at all.

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said Campanaro "showed some real positive things" against the Colts, but Rosburg was not ready to hand him the job yet.

"Michael's out there trying to win the job," Rosburg said after practice on Wednesday. "It's really not his job, it's the returner. The job belongs to the team, and he's trying to get that job."

Expect the auditions for both jobs to continue Saturday night against the Lions.

Quick Links

Why Ravens' decision to play Joe Flacco against Lions makes sense

Why Ravens' decision to play Joe Flacco against Lions makes sense

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will see his first game action since last November on Saturday night, when he starts the Week 3 preseason game against the Lions.

“You need to get back out there, you need to get your mind used to getting ready for a game,” Flacco said Tuesday on Mad Dog Sports Radio with Adam Schein.

Here are three reasons why playing Flacco makes sense:

1. Flacco can benefit from playing before the regular-season opener:

Flacco has shown no indication that he is thinking about his surgically-repaired knee during practices. However, Flacco also knows that no teammates will hit him during practice. Game action will give Flacco a different feel, the test of facing tacklers who will hit him if given the opportunity. Look for the Ravens to call plays that require Flacco to get rid of the ball quickly. The Ravens don’t want Flacco to get hit. But they want him to knock off any potential game rust before the regular season starts.

2.  Flacco can build more chemistry with some of his receivers.

Wide receivers Mike Wallace and Chris Moore, as well as tight end Ben Watson, have never caught a pass from Flacco during a game. This will be a chance for them to get a better feel for each other heading into Week 1.

3. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and rookie left guard Alex Lewis have been practicing and playing with confidence.

It’s early, but Stanley has looked more like a five-year vet than a rookie. Lewis is a physical blocker who doesn’t look intimidated by anyone, or anything. With guard John Urschel missing another day of practice on Wednesday, Lewis is expected to start next to Stanley on Saturday night. The Ravens feel their two rookies on the left side of the line can protect Flacco’s blindside well enough to the Lions away from him.

MORE RAVENS: Scrambling QB's could give Ravens problems

Quick Links

Zion Harvey, Baltimore boy with hand transplant, keeps photo of Ray Lewis

Zion Harvey, Baltimore boy with hand transplant, keeps photo of Ray Lewis

This past year has changed Zion Harvey's life. Just 13-months ago, the Baltimore boy was the first child to receive a double hand transplant. He'd lost both hands and feet to a childhood infection. 

Now 9 years old, Zion made headlines earlier this month for using his new hands to throw out the first pitch at an Orioles game.

The remarkable feat hinted at the progress he'd made, but a full update on his condition hadn't been available until Tuesday. 

This video from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where the surgery was performed, shows all the new things Zion can do for himself. It also reveals that the little boy is a big Ravens fan.

In one poignant scene, Zion points to a group of photos hanging on his bedroom wall. They're of Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Ravens legend Ray Lewis. In the center, Zion has placed a picture of himself. 

The spunky boy also celebrated his 9th birthday with a Ravens cake, which he was able to help distribute to his friends. 

Zion made an appearance on the TODAY show Wednesday morning. He helped Al Roker do the weather forecast and sat down for an inteview with Savannah Guthrie

He said he was surprised by how far he threw that first pitch at the Orioles game. 

"I was surprised it went that far," he said. But that wasn't his first time on the mound, he explained. 

"Well I play a lot of baseball. They put me as pitcher a lot, but I'm a good batter, too," he said. "My mom was recording a video but I wouldn't say her video was the best. She was mostly jumping up and down while she was taking the video and screaming."

RELATED: Ray Lewis spoke with Michael Phelps before final race, could not be prouder