By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — With the way James Harrison and James Farrior practiced Thursday afternoon, either or both could be ready to play when the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Baltimore Ravens Sunday at 8:20 p.m. at Heinz Field.
Harrison still has to be cleared for contact by team doctors, and that might not happen until late Friday or Saturday. Farrior, who practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, looked pretty good Thursday and said he should be able to play if he continues to feel well Friday and doesn’t have a set-back with his calf injury.
“I tweaked it during the game against Arizona and made it a little bit worse during practice last Wednesday, so we came up with the decision that I wouldn’t play in the Patriots game,” Farrior said. “But I was really looking forward to playing this week against Baltimore, so we’ll see what happens.
“We’re trying to get back as fast as we can, but there’s no competition for that right now. If two can’t play, you have a natural tendency to want to be out there. But all of us also know that you have to be ready for the long haul, and if you can’t go you can’t go. So, we think about it, but in the long-term its best to determine what’s best for you and not worry about the other guys.”
There was a rumor floating around that Farrior had a torn calf muscle and would miss at least a month, but he debunked that Thursday.
“It’s just pulled,” Farrior said. “It’s just pulled a little bit, but I don’t know what that means. It could be torn, but it wasn’t bad. I don’t know where (the rumor) came from, because there’s never been a though in our minds — the trainers and my mind — that this wouldn’t be just a week-to-week thing.
“So, I don’t know where you all got that from. I don’t plan on being out for a month. I’m not built that way, and I know my body’s not built that way. So, we’ll give it a go (this week), and if I can (play Sunday) I will. And if I can’t, I’ll sit out again and look forward to next week (at Cincinnati).”
Harrison (eye), Farrior and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) were all listed as limited participation in practice Thursday, but Farrior clearly did the most and Woodley unquestionably did the least. Among them, Woodley appears to be the least likely to be able to play this week.
“We’ve still got time, and I’ve been feeling good each and every day,” Woodley said. “I’m just going to take my time with it right now and wait for Sunday. (And) it’s a late game Sunday, so I could be a game-time decision.
“(But) you can’t overdue (this) injury. You have to be smart about it. When you’re moving in the right direction, you don’t want to set yourself back. (So), I’m going to get rest as much as possible and do what I can do in practice.”
If Woodley can’t play, rookie Chris Carter should start at the left outside linebacker spot where he replaced him for several series against the Patriots.
“I’m grateful for all the opportunities that I’ve been given this season, from the outset, really, because it was a blessing to be drafted by a team like the Steelers,” Carter said. “What a great organization to be part of. And this linebacking corps, I couldn’t have any better group to learn from as a rookie.
“As Coach T says, the standard is the standard around here, so they expect you to just go out and do it. So, that’s what I tried to do. (But) everybody on this team expects to play, no matter who you are, so it’s not a problem if you sit the whole game and then are put in there and have to finish.
“The coaches do a great job getting us ready, so that’s not been a problem so far,” Carter said. “You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t able to do that, so we all prepare like we’re going to start. I’m not just saying that. It’s true. We’re ready to go no matter what every week here. So, I’m definitely ready for anything.”
Not A Bounty, But Close
Steelers safety Ryan Clark was fined $15,000 for his hit on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski last week, but that hasn’t tempered him at all.
“Me and Lawrence Timmons, we have a running pool of who’s going to get the hardest hit in every game,” Clark said. “It went like two weeks where neither of us did anything. We made some tackles, but no impact, physical plays. So, I just decided that every time I make a hit (and) every time I run to the ball, I need to be as violent and efficient as possible. And that’s what I’m doing, but it hurts.
“I’m not feeling too great about it (physically). But I just want to be an enforcer back there and let receivers and running backs know that even with the new rules, there’s ways within the rules that you can be effective and still be physical. So, I’m going to try to continue that this week, but it’s an easy week because (the Ravens) will be trying to do that also. And we’re excited about it.
“(But) if they see something that they consider outside the rules, you’re going to be fined for it,” Clark added. “And that’s just the way the game has gone. They’re really setting high standards for fair play and for keeping players healthy and safe, and that’s something that the players wanted. So, they’ve implemented certain guidelines, and we have to play within them.”
Nose tackle Chris Hoke (neck) and outside linebacker Jason Worilds (quad) have not been listed on the team’s injury report this week, and both are expected to play against the Ravens this week.
“I’m still on the mend, but I’m practicing and getting better every day,” Hoke said. “My strength is coming along, and that really was the only issue. But it’s almost there, so we’ll practice some more this week and see what happens.”
Worilds said that he “practiced every drill and did everything I was supposed to do, so I expect to play this week. It’s been a long time, but I’m ready to get back out there in a game situation.”
Offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (ankle) and wideout Hines Ward also were listed as limited in practice Thursday, while offensive guard-center Doug Legursky (toe) and wideout Emmanuel Sanders (knee-death in family) did not practice.
For the Ravens, running back Anthony Allen (thigh), center Matt Birk (neck), cornerback Chykie Brown (knee), cornerback Danny Gorrer (thigh), offensive guard Ben Grubbs (toe) and wideout David Reed (knee) were limited Thursday, while linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), wideout Lee Evans (ankle) and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (thigh) did not practice.