By Daniel Benjamin
The Baltimore Ravens received some good and bad news at practice on Friday as they prepare for their very important game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bad News:
Smith has not been on the field since sustaining his ankle injury after a 30-23 loss against the New England Patriots on Dec. 12. The Ravens did a nice job without their top cornerback last week in their victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, limiting quarterback Carson Wentz to just 170 passing yards as he completed just 22 of 42 passes (52.4 percent) and one interception. But the Ravens will have a tougher task this week trying to contain the Steelers’ passing attack, specifically wide receiver Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh ranks fifth in passing yards, and Brown is one of the best receivers in the league. Brown ranks second in receptions (96) as well as fifth in receiving yards and second in receiving touchdowns.
Shareece Wright is expected to start in Smith’s place once again. Wright finished with two tackles and one pass defensed against the Eagles. He has 45 tackles this season, six passes defensed and one forced fumble.
The Good News:
Wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. returned to practice on Friday after being a surprise addition to the injury report on Thursday with a thigh injury. Smith is expected to be ready to go on Sunday. He has 60 receptions for 686 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Brent Urban also returned to the practice field Friday after missing Thursday’s session due to an illness. The six-foot-seven, 300-pound reserve defensive end provides depth along the front line for the Ravens. He has registered nine tackles and two sacks in 14 games this season.
The Steelers have nine players listed on their injury report. The most concerning of the players listed are the injuries to wide receiver Sammie Coates (hamstring), wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot) and tight end Ladarius Green (concussion). If all three players are unable to go, the Steelers will need others to step up—particularly tight ends Jesse James, Xavier Grimble and David Johnson, as well as wide receiver Cobi Hamilton.
Ladarius Green is doubtful for the game, as he is still in the league’s mandated concussion protocol after last week’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Green is not a huge factor in the team’s passing game, though quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has gone to him more lately. The tight end has 18 receptions in six games for 304 yards and one touchdown.
Coates is also doubtful for the game, while Heyward-Bey is questionable. Coates had shown flashes of brilliance earlier in the year, but is just coming back after suffering a couple of broken fingers against the New York Jets on Oct. 9. Coates played 30 snaps last week against the Bengals and has 21 receptions and two touchdowns for the season. Heyward-Bey has missed the past six games.
The Steelers also have two starters on their No. 8 ranked defense listed as questionable: Left defensive end Ricardo Mathews and right defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt leads the team with four sacks to go along with 37 tackles. Reserve linebacker Anthony Chickillo (ankle), who has 29 tackles and 2.5 sacks, is also listed as questionable.
- LB Kamalei Correa (ribs). Did Not Participate in Practice. Out.
- DB/LB Anthony Levine Sr. (toe). Limited Practice Participant. Questionable.
- G/T Alex Lewis. (ankle). Full Participant In Practice. Questionable.
- CB Jimmy Smith (ankle). Did Not Participate In Practice. Out.
- WR Steve Smith Sr. (thigh). Full Practice Participant. Questionable.
- DE Brent Urban (illness). Full Participant In Practice. Questionable.