By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — James Harrison made it quite clear that he has only been cleared to practice and not for contact, as the Pittsburgh Steelers worked out Wednesday afternoon to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers and Ravens play Sunday night at 8:20 at Heinz Field, and Harrison (eye) is not expected to play. Inside linebacker James Farrior (thigh) and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) are not expected to play, either.
All three were listed Wednesday as limited in participation.
“It just felt good to be back out there practicing,” Harrison said after practice. (I didn’t do) really too much. We kept it low so I can work back into it. I did a little scout stuff and some stuff at the end, a lot of individual. (But) I’m just trying to get back into game shape, to be honest with you.”
While Harrison wrote on his Twitter account that he did not expect to play against the Ravens, he replied that he hoped to play when asked about it. The issue, Harrison noted, was with contact.
“Not with the eye, but there’s a risk of infection and a combination of things,” Harrison said. “I’ll probably get scanned again (Friday or Saturday), and (they’ll) ask me how it feels, but I haven’t hit anybody, either. (And) I don’t know if they’re going to actually let me do that. I want to see what that actually feels like, but I don’t think they’re going to let me do that (this week).
“That’s up to the doctors to clear me for game play. We’re going to have another evaluation Friday or Saturday, so we’ll see. It feels better than it did after I hurt it. That’s for sure. The helmet, actually the forehead pad, came down over my eye and blew out the bone underneath it. The vision’s OK, but the shield (in the helmet) is for light sensitivity.”
Harrison added that he hoped not to need the shield too much longer, but there were no issues with fog or limiting his peripheral vision.
“It’s been good, so far,” Harrison said. “(But) I have to get cleared to play in a game. Once I get cleared, then it really doesn’t matter. I don’t care what they want me to do. I’ve got two eyes, so I’m not playing with my vision. If they say I can go, I’ll be out there (playing). If not, then I’ll wait another week.”
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he doesn’t remember much about that first Ravens game, but maybe it’s just selective. Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and fumbled twice, so it’s no surprise there.
Two of those interceptions were by Ravens safety Ed Reed.
“Obviously, I don’t remember, but we have to be ready for (Reed) in the secondary, as well as (Suggs up front),” Roethlisberger said. “It always helps to be home because of communication and things like that, and it’s good for the offensive line’s cohesiveness. So, they’ve grown and played better each week.
“I think Max (Starks) has done a great job since he’s been back. I think he’s kind of rededicated himself to be the best he can be. He’s a big-bodied guy that’s strong and has good feet and can make plays. Suggs is a guy who uses speed and power, so I think Max does a good job against him.
“I think Max is looking forward to the matchup, like Suggs is,” Roethlisberger added. “But when you have two good guys like that and put them against each other it makes for a lot of fun. (But) you have to account for where Suggs is all the time, because he can make plays.”
The Steelers beefy nose tackle, Casey Hampton, sounded off on various topics Wednesday after practice and put backup Chris Hoke in his sights.
“Nah, not a stinger,” Hampton said when told that was Hoke’s injury. “A stinger. Man, youâre a wuss if you canât come back from a stinger.”
Some have suggested the Steelers could move either defensive end Brett Keisel back into a linebacker spot or safety Troy Polamalu up to one to make up for the lack of depth at the position this week.
“Brett Keisel, he kind of plays linebacker now,” Hampton said. “He stands up. He kind of thinks he is a linebacker, and heâs really not. He’s one of the more athletic guys. You know, back in my day … linebacker, running back and I got tape. No question, I did real good.”
Among the linebacker replacements, second-year player Stevenson Sylvester, said that Mike Wallace is athletic enough to play linebacker as well. Hampton vehemently disagreed.
“What’s he going to do, blitz?” Hampton shot back. “He’d get his ass tore up.”
Along with Harrison, Farrior and Woodley, offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (ankle) and wideout Hines Ward (ankle) were limited in Wednesday’s practice for the Steelers, while offensive guard Doug Legursky (toe) and wideout Emmanuel Sanders (knee) did not participate.
For the Ravens, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), wideout Lee Evans (ankle), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (thigh) and wideout David Reed (knee) did not practice. Running back Anthony Allen (thigh), center Matt Birk (neck), cornerback Danny Gorrer (thigh) and offensive guard Ben Grubbs (toe) were limited Wednesday.
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