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Steelers CB Ike Taylor out with ankle injury


Steelers CB Ike Taylor out with ankle injury

PITTSBURGH (AP) There have been very few constants in Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's six years on the job.

The sight of Ike Taylor in his No. 24 uniform has been one of them.

Until now.

The veteran cornerback will miss at least two weeks with a fractured right ankle, meaning his streak of playing in 135 consecutive games will end on Sunday when the Steelers (7-5) host reeling San Diego (4-8).

``You can say a lot of things about Ike, and a lot of positive things, but probably the thing that sticks out the most is his durability and availability,'' Tomlin said. ``This guy hasn't missed practices, let alone football games, since I've been here.''

The 32-year-old Taylor has spent the last seven-plus seasons serving as an anchor on one side of the field. It's not a coincidence Pittsburgh has ranked in the top 10 in total defense each year and is No. 1 overall and in passing yards allowed yet again.

Though Taylor doesn't need surgery, the Steelers will have to rely on second-year reserves Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown against San Diego and Dallas, both of which have two of the more physical receiving corps in the leagues.

It's a task, however, Allen and Brown appeared to be up to while playing extensively last week against Baltimore after Taylor went down. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco completed just 16 of 34 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception as the Steelers revived their playoff hopes following the franchise's first two-game losing streak in three years.

To keep it going Pittsburgh will now rely a pair of 2011 draft picks to ease the pain from Taylor's absence. Tomlin likened Allen and Brown to third-year wide receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. The duo were taken in the 2010 draft and have quickly evolved into key contributors.

Tomlin figures it's time for the two cornerbacks to do the same.

``They're both talented young guys who are continuing to improve and prove that the stage isn't too big for them,'' Tomlin said. ``Obviously, we need them to answer the bell as we continue to push into a territory that we haven't been in.''

While one familiar face will be out of the lineup, another one could return. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will practice this week with a chance to return since going down with a sprained right shoulder and a dislocated rib in a 16-13 overtime win over Kansas City on Nov. 12.

Roethlisberger threw on Monday, though Tomlin stressed that at the moment backup Charlie Batch is ``our guy.''

Batch, who turns 38 on Wednesday, passed for 276 yards and led the Steelers to a pair of late scoring drives in Baltimore. Tomlin, however, stressed the decision on Roethlisberger's availability rests solely on the quarterback's health, not Batch's ability to channel the fountain of youth.

``Ben is our quarterback and if he's capable of playing then we're going to play him,'' Tomlin said. ``But we appreciate the efforts of Charlie and all the other men that step up when given an opportunity due to injury.''

Roethlisberger said last week arm strength and pain have been major concerns during his rehab. He appears to have made progress on both fronts in the last week.

``Seven days does wonders for injuries,'' Tomlin said.

So does the prospect of playing significant games in December. Tomlin allowed the victory in Baltimore is among the most significant of the last two seasons, so much so he was in a rush to get to the locker room afterward, one of the reasons the postgame handshake between Tomlin and Ravens coach John Harbaugh appeared strained.

``It took special effort to secure that victory and when I noticed that guys were headed to the locker room I was in a hurry to get there,'' Tomlin said.

And Tomlin is in a hurry to get back to work, though he's not trying to read too much into similarities between the team's position now and the one it was in seven years ago, when the Steelers won their final four regular season games then added four playoff wins to capture their fifth Super Bowl.

``I do think our team has some unique characteristics that are kind of born out of unique circumstances or situations,'' he said. ``Quite frankly, it's always 20-20 looking back at it. If we're able to put together a run and win necessary games and get some momentum, then you can say it was unique.

``If we don't, then you can say it was irrelevant.''


NOTES: LB LaMarr Woodley will test his injured ankle this week and could play after missing the Ravens game ... WR Jerricho Cotchery's fractured ribs have healed enough that he has a shot to return against San Diego ... Tomlin said he's encouraged by the way S Troy Polamalu played against the Ravens in his first game in nearly two months and could see a heavier workload on Sunday.


Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP


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Ravens Injury Report: Joe Flacco remains questionable for Sunday

Ravens Injury Report: Joe Flacco remains questionable for Sunday

After missing two practices this week to rest a sore right shoulder, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is officially questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Jets but returned to practice on Friday. Seven Ravens, including several starters, also are listed as doubtful or out.

Linebackers Elvis Dumervil (foot) and C.J. Mosley (thigh) both have been ruled out for the second straight game. It will be Dumervil's fifth missed game this season.

In additon, the Ravens are likely to be without receiver Steve Smith Sr. (ankle) and guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder) for the second straight game. They are both listed as doubtful and did not practice all week. Linebacker Terrell Suggs, who injured his biceps against the Giants last week, is also doubtful, as are safety Kendrick Lewis (thigh) and cornerback Shareece Wright (thigh).

Also questionable is cornerback Jimmy Smith (concussion), who was a limited participant in practice all week. A team official said he still must pass another concussion protocol test before being cleared to play Sunday.

Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who has missed the past three games with a foot injury, was a full participant in practice this week and is listed as questionable.

Kick returner Devin Hester (thigh), who missed last week's game and the first two practices this week, returned to practice Friday and is also listed as questionable. Others listed as questionable are receiver Kamar Aiken (thigh) and cornerback Jerraud Powers (thigh).

For the Jets, starting offensive linemen Nick Mangold (knee) and Ryan Clady (shoulder) and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) are all questionable. Wilkerson did not practice Friday, and his

Here are the final injury reports for both teams.


OUT: LB Elvis Dumervil (foot), LB C.J. Mosley (thigh)

DOUBTFUL: S Kendrick Lewis (thigh), WR Steve Smith Sr. (ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps), CB Shareece Wright (thigh), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder)

QUESTIONABLE: WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), QB Joe Flacco (shoulder), KR Devin Hester (thigh), CB Jerraud Powers (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion), T Ronnie Stanley (foot)


OUT: TE Braedon Bowman (knee), LB Darron Lee (ankle), OL Brent Qvale (neck), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle)


QUESTIONABLE: T Ryan Clady (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (knee), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr says he "can get a whole lot better"

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Ravens QB Joe Flacco returns to practice Friday

Ravens QB Joe Flacco returns to practice Friday

OWINGS MILLS — Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who missed two practices this week with a sore right shoulder, returned to the practice field on Friday, increasing the likelihood that he will play against the New York Jets on Sunday.

Flacco made his usual throws in the brief period of practice open to the media, warming up and then making throws of 10 to 15 yards. He didn't show any discomfort and appeared to have plenty of velocity from his arm.

Coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal about Flacco's availability for Sunday, and the official injury report will come out later Friday.

"We'll see," Harbaugh said after Friday's light workout. "We'll see how he responds tomorrow. He was out there running around a little bit, throwing the ball a little bit, so we'll see what happens."

After missing Wednesday's practice, Flacco said he just needed to rest his sore throwing shoulder but hoped to play on Sunday. He also sat out Thursday's workout.

“It is not about being pain free," Flacco said Wednesday. "You can deal with a little pain. It is just about making sure you can throw the ball good enough to go out there and help your team.”

Flacco was receiving treatment after practice on Friday and not available to the media.

Tight end Dennis Pitta said after practice Friday that Flacco "looked good. He was throwing the ball well and didn't seem to be in any kind of pain. ... We're excited to have him back out there for sure."

Pitta, who customarily warms up with Flacco early in practice, said, "It was walkthrough tempo, but just throwing with him, he had good zip on the ball, good velocity, so we should see the same old Joe Flacco."

Behind a Ravens offensive line that has started four different combinations in the past four games, Flacco has taken a pounding this year. He has been sacked 13 times and hit 42 times. Flacco played the entire game against the New York Giants last week and said he felt the shoulder injury afterward.

If Flacco is not able to play, Ryan Mallett would be in line to start. He started the final two games for the Ravens last season after Flacco suffered a season-ending knee injury, going 1-1 in those games.

MORE RAVENS: Zach Orr shines as first-year starter