PITTSBURGH – The Steelers will have some new faces in the lineup Sunday when they travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, but one player who definitely won’t be suiting up is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
After Roethlisberger was limited all week in practice – as he comes back from shoulder and rib injuries suffered three weeks ago – the Steelers declared him out for Sunday’s game.
That was the bad news for Pittsburgh (6-5), which trails Baltimore (9-2) by three games in the AFC North standings.
The good news? Wide receiver Antonio Brown and strong safety Troy Polamalu are expected to be back.
Brown has missed the past three weeks with an ankle sprain, and the Steelers have struggled offensively without their MVP from 2011.
Polamalu, meanwhile, has appeared in just two games while dealing with a calf injury, and hasn’t played since leaving an Oct. 7 win over Philadelphia in the first quarter.
“I think it means a lot, getting leadership and stability out there again,” said Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. “Our guys have done a good job without him. I don’t think he will be able to be out there every snap but he is going to be able to take a significant role. Let’s face it, when you can have him on the field it’s a plus for us. We are looking forward to his return.”
Those changes won’t be the only ones in store for the Steelers as they try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2009.
Jason Worilds will start at outside linebacker in place of LaMarr Woodley, who suffered an ankle injury in last week’s 20-14 loss at Cleveland, while rookie Kelvin Beachum is expected to make his first career start at right tackle protecting third-string quarterback Charlie Batch.
Worilds recorded two sacks against the Browns and leads the Steelers with five sacks in limited playing time.
“He is doing a good job. He actually had tremendous growth last year. He had to play well over half the snaps last year and started a lot of games,” said LeBeau of Worilds, a 2010 second-round draft picks. “He would have been accelerated tremendously, except that he had the injury situation in the offseason. He missed the whole training camp. I would say the last month he has really come back to where he was at the end of last season, when he was coming on strong.”
Beachum, meanwhile, has played just 27 snaps this season as a seventh-round draft pick, but played well after stepping in for Mike Adams, who suffered an ankle injury in the second half last week.
“It’s not a good thing that Mike got hurt, but when he did, Beachum had to go in and play a significant number of plays, the majority of those having to be passing, and he held his own,” said Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. “He gets a full week of practice taking all the reps, and we need to make sure we’re looking out for him like we always do with those guys on the edges on either side.”
The Steelers also have some uncertainty at left guard. Willie Colon missed last week’s game and sat out practice Wednesday and Thursday with a deep knee bruise. He returned to practice on a limited basis Friday, but is listed as questionable to play Sunday.
If he cannot play, center Maurkice Pouncey is expected to slide over, with Doug Legursky starting at center.