Those not playing in Sunday’s meeting between the Ravens and Steelers might be as much of a factor in deciding the rivalry contest as those who will take the field.
The Ravens will be without linebacker Ray Lewis, as well as cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. The Steelers won’t have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu, wideout Antonio Brown and tackle Marcus Gilbert.
“It’s definitely going to be different, a different feel,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “But once that whistle blows and the bullets become live, I don’t expect anything less than traditional Ravens-Steelers.”
The Friday injury reports for both teams were lengthy.
Baltimore also listed 12 players as probable: Safety Sean Considine (knee/chest), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (finger), wideout Jacoby Jones (ankle), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shoulder), safety Bernard Pollard (chest), safety Ed Reed (shoulder/leg/neck), running back Ray Rice (toe), wideout Torrey Smith (chest), Suggs (ankle), linebacker Courtney Upshaw (shoulder), guard Bobbie Williams (ankle) and guard Marshal Yanda (ankle).
For the Steelers, Brown (ankle), Gilbert (ankle), Polamalu (calf) and Roethlisberger (right shoulder) were listed as out on the injury report.
Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) is questionable while six others are probable - cornerback Curtis Brown (quad), safety Ryan Clark (concussion), defensive end Brett Keisel (shoulder), running back Rashad Mendenhall (Achilles), tackle Max Starks (ankle) and cornerback Ivan Taylor (illness).
Even with so many players missing, the meaning of the contest hasn’t diminished one iota. If anything, it’s increased for Pittsburgh, which trails the Ravens by one game in the AFC North and could be without Roethlisberger a while.
Update: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was awarded FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week for his performance against the Raiders.
Flacco completed 21 of 33 attempts for 341 yards and three touchdowns in the record-setting 55-20 victory. Flacco previously won the award in Week 3.
In honor of Flacco, FedEx is making a $2,000 donation to the Baltimore offices of Junior Achievement. The funding is used to help U.S. small business development by educating the next generation of entrepreneurs on how to build their own businesses.