All eyes on Roeth­lis­berger’s sta­tus for Sun­day

Baltimore Sun - - RAVENS & NFL - By Ed­ward Lee ed­ward.lee@balt­ twit­­wardLeeSun

Will he or won’t he? That’s the ques­tion Ravens and Pitts­burgh Steel­ers fans have about whether quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger will re­turn from the surgery he un­der­went two weeks ago to re­pair a torn menis­cus in his left knee and play in Sun­day’s AFC North game at M&T Bank Sta­dium.

Ravens coach John Har­baugh said he ex­pects to see No. 7 un­der cen­ter for Pitts­burgh.

“I haven’t read any­thing to­day about it, but I would an­tic­i­pate they will pre­pare as if he’s go­ing to play,” Har­baugh said Mon­day. “The of­fense doesn’t change that much if [backup] Landry Jones is in there. Ob­vi­ously, they’re dif­fer­ent play­ers. Ben is Ben, and we re­spect him tremen­dously. We’ll op­er­ate un­der that as­sump­tion.”

Jones com­pleted 61.7 per­cent (29 of 47) of his passes for 281 yards, one touch­down and one in­ter­cep­tion in the Steel­ers’ 27-16 loss to the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots on Oct. 23. It wasn’t a ter­ri­ble show­ing, but he’s no Roeth­lis­berger, who ranked in the top five in the NFL in six pass­ing cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing touch­down passes (15), be­fore his in­jury.

Roeth­lis­berger re­port­edly prac­ticed Mon­day, which im­pressed team­mates.

“When­ever you have a leader like that, com­ing off surgery, to come out there and show the team you’re will­ing to do what it takes to play with your broth­ers, you can re­ally re­spect that,” cen­ter Mau­r­kice Pouncey said. “Ev­ery­one knows and can see why he’s a leader on this team.”

Also re­turn­ing to prac­tice were two more starters: right tackle Steel­ers quar­ter­back Ben Roeth­lis­berger talks with Landry Jones, his backup. Roeth­lis­berger, who had surgery two weeks ago to re­pair a torn menis­cus in his left knee, re­port­edly prac­ticed Mon­day. Mar­cus Gil­bert (high-an­kle sprain) and de­fen­sive end Cam Hey­ward (ham­string).

The Ravens prac­ticed, too, but Har­baugh was tight-lipped about who par­tic­i­pated.

“We don’t have any an­nounce­ments to make along those lines,” he said. “In­jury re­port [to be re­leased on] Wed­nes­day. I re­ally don’t have any up­dates on that. I’m an­tic­i­pat­ing some guys be­ing back, though.” Har­baugh ex­cited to re­turn: The Ravens en­joyed their bye week be­fore hav­ing to wel­come Pitts­burgh and the Cleve­land Browns to Bal­ti­more for a pair of games within a five-day span.

The Ravens are 9-3 un­der Har­baugh in their six pairs of Sun­day-Thurs­day games, with a loss to the Den­ver Bron­cos in their 2013 Thurs­day night sea­son opener. Har­baugh said he is ea­ger to see how the team fares over the next week and a half.

“I’m kind of ex­cited about play­ing the two games in five days,” he said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to it. I think it’s a good time for us to do it. I just want to go out there and play well. I want to knock some of this dis­ap­point­ment off. This is some­thing that you carry around with you. It’s not what you want. It’s not the goal. The goal is to win these games and have the kind of record that you think re­flects how hard you worked. So yeah, I’m very de­ter­mined to do that right now.” Ties don’t bother Har­baugh: The Seat­tle Sea­hawks and Arizo- na Car­di­nals slogged their way to a 6-6 dead­lock Oct. 23, while the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins and Cincin­nati Ben­gals fin­ished in a 27-27 tie in Lon­don on Sun­day.

The lack of a clear win­ner (and loser) has caused a bit of an out­cry from some coaches, but not from Har­baugh, who doesn’t ap­pear to have an opin­ion on whether the NFL should im­ple­ment a sys­tem to avoid ties.

“I don’t care. I want to win,” he said. “All I care about is win­ning the game. We want to win the game if we’re in that sit­u­a­tion. I mean, se­ri­ously, that’s our fo­cus. We’ve been in over­time games plenty of times be­fore, and you try to win the game.”

The Ravens are 12-10-1 all time in over­time games, with the lone tie oc­cur­ring Nov. 16, 1997, against the Philadel­phia Ea­gles. End zone: Sun­day’s game against the Steel­ers will kick off a stretch in which the Ravens play four of their next five games and five of seven over­all at M&T Bank Sta­dium. The Ravens are 110-52-1 in Bal­ti­more but just 1-2 this sea­son. On Mon­day, Har­baugh al­ter­nately em­braced and dis­missed the sig­nif­i­cance of be­gin­ning the sec­ond half of the sea­son with two home games. “It’s go­ing to be im­por­tant,” he said. “We need to win these games. So I don’t re­ally care where they’re be­ing played. We needed to win on the road the last two weeks, and we didn’t. We need to win these at home, and re­ally, we just need to win. That’s what it boils down to.” … The NFL trade dead­line is 4 p.m. to­day, but the Ravens prob­a­bly won’t be ac­tive. They never have made a deal on the day of the trade dead­line, with their trade for Mi­ami Dol­phins left tackle Bryant McKin­nie on Oct. 21, 2013, com­ing clos­est. Har­baugh de­clined to spec­u­late on whether gen­eral man­ager Ozzie New­some would be look­ing to make a move. “It’s not my de­part­ment,” Har­baugh said. “So we’ll just see how that plays out with Ozzie and what he’s do­ing.” … Four mem­bers of the Har­baugh fam­ily at­tended the Chicago Cubs’ 3-2 win Sun­day night against the Cleve­land In­di­ans in Game 5 of the World Se­ries. Michi­gan coach Jim Har­baugh; his wife, Sarah; fa­ther, Jack; and mother, Jackie, sat in the left field stands at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Mean­while, John Har­baugh said his fo­cus was on foot­ball. “We’re just try­ing to find a way to win a game right now,” he said.


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