PITTSBURGH – Some star power will be missing from the Steelers-Ravens rivalry Thursday night, with Ben Roethlisberger and Terrell Suggs injured. However, here are six players to watch who should play prominent roles:
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers running back
Bell was injured back in January, when the Ravens beat the Steelers in the playoffs. He’s one of the best backs in the NFL, teaming with backup De’Angelo Williams to give the Steelers a one-two punch that could be difficult for the Ravens to deal with.
Jimmy Smith, Ravens cornerback
After being worked over Sunday by Bengals wide receiver A. J. Green, Smith needs to have a short memory and play up to his standards. Smith says his confidence has not been shaken. We will find out in this game.
Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receiver
Brown is elusive once he makes the catch, and his ability to get open makes him a difficult cover. Shoddy tackling by the Ravens’ secondary has been a problem. The Ravens can’t afford to let Brown explode on them the way Green did.
Steve Smith, Ravens wide receiver
Coming off a scintillating 13-catch performance Sunday, Smith is the Ravens’ best offensive weapon right now. Playing two games in four days will test his 36-year-old legs. But when the lights come on, Smith always responds. Anyone who thinks the Ravens lack leaders isn’t paying close attention to Smith. He’s playing with passion.
“He made some plays in that game the other night that he had no business making, getting us some first downs he had no business getting,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees of Smith. “That’s a guy making a play, being determined and having unbelievable confidence in his ability.”
Michael Vick, Steelers QB
Vick is the X-factor in this game, replacing the injured Roethlisberger. History shows that Vick will make things happen, but not all of it may be good for the Steelers. If Vick avoids careless mistakes, the Steelers’ offense will be tough to contain. But a few turnovers from Vick could turn this game in the Ravens’ direction.
Maxx Williams, Ravens TE
With Crockett Gillmore (calf injury) out, second-round pick Williams becomes the primary pass-catching target at tight end. Flacco loves throwing to tight ends, but this is Williams’ first taste of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. Will he rise to the occasion or falter?
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