Today the Steelers went through an extremely light workout in their first of three practices this week. The past two weeks the Steelers have adapted a different approach with walkthroughs on Wednesday’s and having only one hard practice on Thursday’s.
Head coach Mike Tomlin believes the new approach will keep his team more fresh and for now he’s going to stick with the new schedule. It’s a new practice format that gives veterans such as Hines Ward and James Farrior an opportunity to participate when in the past they have sat out Wednesday practices that are considered regular practices.
*On the injury front, Trai Essex (ankle) and Chris Hoke (knee) did not practice. Hoke has not been ruled out for Sunday’s game but he’s likely to miss this week and should be able to return against Cleveland in week 6.
Trai Essex is pushing hard to get back on the field as Doug Legursky could keep the starting right guard job with another strong performance against Baltimore.
Full participation: Chris Chester (back), Matt Birk (back), and Todd Heap (shoulder); Limited: Jared Gaither (back) and Jarret Johnson (back); Did Not Practice: Ray Rice (knee) Tony Moll (hip) and Cory Redding (concussion); Ruled Out: Donte Stallworth and Tavares Gooden
*Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis created some buzz this morning in a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters. Lewis said during the conference call that Ben Roethlisberger texted him last night and the two have been in touch. “He texted me last night and things like that,” Lewis said on the conference call. “It’s a respect we have for each other but more importantly it’s a respect you got to have for yourself, ” Lewis added.
Lewis also said that he exchanges texts with a number of other Steelers on a regular basis.
*Ravens WR Anquan Boldin was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Boldin had 8 receptions for 142 yards and three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 win over Cleveland.
*All eyes this week in Baltimore will be on Ray Rice who is being bothered by a knee injury. After not practicing today, the 3rd year back is hopeful to practice later this week and has not been ruled out yet.
Rice has been one of the few running backs in the league to cause the Steelers defense problems. In 2009, Rice was tremendous against Pittsburgh in both matchups. In the Ravens 20-17 overtime win against Pittsburgh in week 12, Rice rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries and added 67 receiving yards.
In Pittsburgh’s 23-20 win in week 16, Rice exploited the Steelers run defense, rushing for 141 yards in the loss.