By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens and Steelers will go head-to-head on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. This game is going to be a hard hitting contest between two teams that don’t like each other. This game will come down to who comes into this game the healthiest. And while some prominent players such as Ray Lewis and Jimmy Smith are out, expect some old faces to make appearances for the first time this season.
Ed Dickson, TE, (knee): Doubtful
The Ravens did a good job of staying healthy on offense most of the season. That came to an end last Sunday when Dickson went down with a knee injury. The young tight-end hasn’t practiced all week and is considered Doubtful for Sunday’s pivotal game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens won’t be able to run the 2-TE set that has become a base formation in the teams’ offense. The Ravens will most likely spread the football more in this matchup to compensate for the loss. Dickson appeared to be relieved after he initially thought the injury was a lot more serious.
“When you see the play on film, it looks pretty bad,” Dickson stated. “It swelled up pretty good. I’m just trying to maintain treatment. I’ve been living in the treatment center.”
Dickson may not be having the same success as Pitta, but he is still an important piece in the Ravens offense. The Ravens are better with him than without him. He should be back in a couple of weeks.
Dannell Ellerbe, LB, (ankle): Questionable
Ellerbe, who is arguably Baltimore’s best linebacker, is a game-time decision with an ankle injury. Ellerbe suffered the injury last Sunday against San Diego when someone fell on top of his ankle. Ellerbe told reporters this week that the swelling has gone down considerably since the injury and will make an attempt to play on Sunday.
Fans hoping he can start against Pittsburgh should be too optimistic as Ellerbe didn’t practice all week. If he can’t play, expect Brendon Ayanbadejo and Josh Bynes to split time at the MLB position until he’s able to return. Ellerbe should be a full go next week if he isn’t available on Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger and LaMarr Woodley are OUT
For the second straight meeting, Big Ben will not play against Baltimore. That’s bad news for a Steelers team trying to keep pace with Baltimore in the AFC North. Since Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, the Steelers have never won a game in which he didn’t play against Baltimore. With the way Pittsburgh has looked without him this season, it doesn’t look good for the black and gold on Sunday.
LaMarr Woodley, who is arguably the best linebacker on the team, is a no go for Sunday after suffering an ankle injury in the game against Cleveland. The pass rush of Pittsburgh takes a big hit as Flacco can get hot in a hurry if given time in the pocket. The Ravens will turn their attention to keeping James Harrison away from Joe in this contest.
Troy Polamalu and Antonio Brown will play on Sunday
For all the doom and gloom in Pittsburgh, the 2nd place Steelers will see some old faces return to the field. Troy Polamalu, who has been dealing with a calf injury, is set to return to action against Baltimore. The last time Baltimore lost a game at M&T Bank stadium, it was due to a forced turnover by Polamalu in a December showdown in 2010. Baltimore will need to keep their eye on the crafty safety.
If Charlie Batch can get him the ball, Antonio Brown can be a dangerous weapon. Brown practiced all week and will play on Sunday. His speed on the field makes him dangerous for a secondary who has struggled to stop the pass, albeit not recently.
Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.