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Roethlisberger has rib injury too, out vs. Ravens

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Roethlisberger has rib injury too, out vs. Ravens

PITTSBURGH (AP) Right arm tucked into a black sling, weary eyes betraying a decided lack of sleep, Ben Roethlisberger tried to stay positive after the worst - and by far the most harrowing - injury of his career.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback believes he can return this season despite spraining his right shoulder and suffering what he called a dislocated rib in Monday night's overtime win against Kansas City.

He's just not sure when he'll be ready. And his medical team appears nowhere close to figuring out how exactly to get him there.

``From what (the doctor) said he's trying to talk to experts because there is no case study over the exact same thing,'' Roethlisberger said Wednesday. ``We're just trying to talk to people ... because we don't know.''

All Roethlisberger knows for certain is that doctors are concerned the rib - which he injured while getting sacked by a pair of Kansas City linebackers in the third quarter on Monday - could puncture his aorta if jostled around.

He also knows he'll be a spectator indefinitely while the surging Steelers (6-3) try to track down AFC North-leading Baltimore (7-2). The rivals meet twice over the next three weeks, with the first showdown coming Sunday night at Heinz Field. Veteran backup Byron Leftwich will take the snaps in Roethlisberger's place, looking for his first win as a starter in six years.

``I'm not going to go out there and try and be Ben,'' Leftwich said. ``We see the game differently. He's physically able to do some things that I can't do but that doesn't mean I can't go out there and do my job.''

The Steelers have been forced to play with Roethlisberger occasionally over the last nine seasons, going 8-5 without their franchise cornerstone since 2004. Four of those losses, however, have come against the Ravens.

Still, Roethlisberger remains optimistic he'll be back to work at some point over the next seven weeks. Asked if he thinks the injury is season-ending, the two-time Super Bowl winner shrugged his one good shoulder and attempted to remain upbeat.

``I don't think so, I don't know though but I'm not a medical expert,'' Roethlisberger said. ``I just know I'm going to do what I can to get back.''

At the moment, doing nothing appears to be the smartest course after his season came to a stunning halt early in the third quarter against the Chiefs.

Roethlisberger was stepping up in the pocket trying to extend a third-down play when Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston wrapped up his legs and teammate Tamba Hali drove all of his 265 pounds into Roethlisberger's chest and slammed him to the turf. The quarterback's right arm dug into his side at the moment of impact, dislocating the rib and sending a jagged edge perilously close to the aorta.

``When I hit the ground is kind of when I felt something not right, like a crunch or a crack,'' Roethlisberger said. ``It's kind of hard to explain.''

What's easy to explain is the pain, which Roethlisberger described as ``nine on a scale of 1-10.'' Most of the misery is coming from the rib and he joked he'll likely have to hold his son - who is due to arrive sometime in the next few weeks - with in his left arm instead of his right.

Unless Roethlisberger learns to throw with his left arm too, Pittsburgh's playoff chances will rest with Leftwich. The former first-round pick hasn't started a game in three years and hasn't won one since 2006. He went 7 of 14 for 73 yards in relief against the Chiefs, leading Pittsburgh to a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

``My first few plays I felt like everybody was moving faster than me,'' Leftwich said. ``Maybe that is because I'm slower than everybody. When you ain't out there, let's just be honest, it just takes awhile to get back.''

A full week of practice and the fact he's spent four of the last five seasons as Roethlisberger's primary backup means Leftwich isn't exactly starting from scratch.

Early in his career, Leftwich was one of the most promising quarterbacks in the league. Taken with the seventh overall pick by Jacksonville in the 2003 draft, Leftwich led the Jaguars to a playoff berth in 2005 before things fell apart. He lost his starting job to David Garrard a year later then bounced around between Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay before returning to the Steelers for good in 2010.

Leftwich missed all but one game in 2010 due to a knee injury and spent all of 2011 on injured reserve after breaking his arm during a preseason game. Yet the Steelers have kept him around because of his close relationship with Roethlisberger and his arm, which remains one of the strongest in the league. Leftwich actually overthrew speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace on a fly pattern against the Chiefs, a rare feat.

``We have all the confidence in the world in Byron,'' Wallace said. ``He's been in this league a long time, and he's played a lot of games. We just need to work on some things in practice this week with him at quarterback, and I'm sure we'll be ready to go by the time the game comes around.''

Roethlisberger will be there in Leftwich's ear offering assistance when necessary, just as Leftwich has done for him through the years.

``He can make every throw on the football field,'' Roethlisberger said. ``He's going to do just as good if not better.''

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NOTES: DE Brett Keisel (shoulder), LT Max Starks (ankle), S Troy Polamalu (calf), RT Marcus Gilbert (ankle), WR Antonio Brown (ankle) LB Chris Carter (abdomen) and Roethlisberger did not practice on Wednesday ... S Ryan Clark was limited in practice after sustaining a concussion against the Chiefs. Clark will meet with team doctors on Thursday for further evaluation.

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Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Packers: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Ravens are back after their bye week and are headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin to take on the 5-4 Packers.

Prior to the bye week, the Ravens lost a close one to the Tennessee Titans, allowing Marucs Mariota to throw a late touchdown in the fourth to wide receiver Eric Decker. 

The first half of their season has been rough. Joe Flacco hasn't performed up to his Super Bowl MVP status and is looking to change that in their last seven games. 

RELATED: THREE THINGS WE'VE LEARNED ABOUT THE RAVENS SO FAR THIS SEASON 

Running back Danny Woodhead-who has been out since Week 1 with a hamstring injury- returned to practice and could be playing Sunday. 

The Ravens' receiving core hasn't shown up either. John Harbaugh's team is as healthy right now as they've been all season, something that will be very important in Lambeau Field. Can the Ravens get back on track and steal the sixth and final AFC playoff spot? Their first step could be against the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers.

The Packers have been without Rodgers since Week 6 and are now being lead by Brett Hundley.

Hundley currently has a 69.1% QB rating and 2 touchdowns, but is listed on their Week 11 injury report with a hamstring injury.

Packers starting running back Ty Montgomery, is listed a questionable and did not participate in Wednesday's practice with a rib injury.

RELATED: FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEK 11 RANKINGS 

They are ranked 22nd in the league in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards. Something the Ravens defense should be able to handle.

The Ravens and Packers have met five times, with the Packers leading the series 4-1. The last time they met was in October of 2013 when the Packers beat the Ravens on the road, 19-17.

Ahead of Sunday's game, here's everything you need to know to watch.

Week 11 Ravens vs. Packers Game Info:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers

What: Week 11 NFL regular season 

When: 1:00 p.m.. ET, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI

TV Channel: CBS

Live Stream: fuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 

Point Spread: Baltimore, -2

Over/Under: 38

Weather: 30 degrees, mostly sunny

BALTIMORE RAVENS 2017 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1 (Sun, Sept. 10): 20-0  at Cincinnati Bengals (W)

Week 2 (Sun, Sept. 17): 24-10 vs. Cleveland Browns (W)

Week 3 (Sun, Sept. 24): 44-7 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (in London) (L)

Week 4 (Sun, Oct. 1): vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 5 (Sun, Oct. 8): at Oakland Raiders, 4:05 p.m. (W)

Week 6 (Sun, Oct. 15): vs Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 7 (Sun, Oct. 22): at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 8 (Thur, Oct. 26): vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. (W)

Week 9 (Sun, Nov. 5): at Tennessee Titans, 1:00 p.m. (L)

Week 10 (Sun, Nov. 12): BYE week

Week 11 (Sun, Nov. 19): at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12 (Mon, Nov. 27): vs. Houston Texans, 8:30 p.m.

Week 13 (Sun, Dec. 3): vs. Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: (Sun, Dec. 10): at Pittsburgh Steelers, 8:30 p.m.

Week 15: (Sun, Dec. 17): at Cleveland Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: (Sat, Dec. 23): vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:30 p.m.

Week 17: (Sun, Dec. 31): vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00 p.m

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Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

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USA TODAY Sports

Three things we've learned from the Ravens so far this season

It hasn't been pretty, that's for sure.

There were many questions for the Ravens heading into the 2017 season and halfway through, some of those questions still remain.

As rough as you may think it has been, the Ravens are only one game behind the Buffalo Bills for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot.

Wild, right?

Sitting at 4-5 with seven games to go, the season is far from over.

While there's been a lot of bad, there's also been some good. Let's start with the biggest issue.

1) Flacco, offense still trying to figure things out

Joe Flacco missed the entire preseason with a lingering back injury and many questioned how efficient he would be seeing game action for the first time in Week 1.

Well, the Ravens started off the season 2-0 and it seemed as if Flacco — in his tenth season — could just hop right back into things. But, since the 2-0 start, Flacco has been anything but "Joe Cool." In nine games, he's thrown for 1,551 yards, 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with a 72.7 QB rating.

Naturally, 32-year-old Flacco isn't going to be the fresh, young QB he was during his consecutive five-year playoff run. With a collapsing offensive line and no reliable receivers to throw to, it's difficult to put all of the blame on him.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman, Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace have all missed playing time this season with injuries and concussions. The same applies to the Ravens' tight end group.

The team ranks dead last in the league in passing yards, but 10th in rushing yards.

However, their running back depth took a hit in July when Kenneth Dixon tore his medial meniscus in OTA's, ending his season.

Then Danny Woodhead suffered a hamstring injury in Week 1, but has returned to practice and could make his return against the Packers, and Terrance West hasn't played since Week 5 with a calf injury. 

In comes the Ravens' running back saint, Alex Collins. 

Prior to the start of the season you had probably never heard of Collins, but the 23-year-old has rushed for 521 yards this season. He gives some credit to his training in Irish dance, which he said has helped with his foot work.

And their O-line hasn't had much luck either. Starting guard John Urschel informed the team on Day 1 of training camp that he would be retiring from the game to focus on receiving his PhD in mathematics from MIT. The team then lost guard Marshall Yanda for the year with an ankle injury.

Between all of this, it's been a rough go-around for the Ravens offense. They can't seem to get much going but head coach John Harbaugh still has faith in offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

Now that the Ravens offense has had some time to regroup and recover, Flacco said he's ready to come back in attack mode.

REALTED: WEEK 10 NFL POWER RANKINGS

2) Defense still dominates, but not yet consistent

Spotty: spot·ty [ˈspädē/]. adj.: marked with spots. of uneven quality; patchy. See Also: 2017 Baltimore Ravens defense

The Ravens are known for their resilient defense and are currently ranking 6th overall in the league. Inside linebacker CJ Mosely leads the team in tackles, with 76 with Tony Jefferson trailing behind him at 43.

Even though the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals aren't two of the top teams in the league, the Ravens defense shut both of them out this season. A hard accomplishment in the NFL.

On the other hand, looking at games like Week 9's matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Ravens defense allowed Marcus Mariota and company to drive down the field for a late Eric Decker touchdown. Something they were not happy about.

And in Week 6, they lost in overtime to the 3-6 Chicago Bears.

They are definitely still a dominate force in the league, but are working out some kinks.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

3) AFC mediocrity gives Ravens a fighting chance

The NFL in 2017 has been a bit strange. There is no core of dominating teams at the top.  More than any other season, this one appears as if success really is on a week-to-week basis. 

With the Ravens only one game behind the Bills for the sixth AFC playoff spot, there is still a glimmer of hope. And on top of that, the Ravens have the third easiest remaining schedule in the league.

After the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers in Week 11, they face the Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt-less Texans, followed by the Lions, Steelers, Browns, Colts and Bengals.

There are several winnable games there and with the team coming back from their bye week as healthy as they've been all year, it's time to rise to the occasion.