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Steelers QB Roethlisberger testing hurt shoulder

Steelers QB Roethlisberger testing hurt shoulder

PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Roethlisberger can hold his newborn son Ben Jr. in his injured right arm just fine, thanks.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback will be able to say the same about a football, even he's not sure.

Roethlisberger practiced in a limited role Thursday and appears a long shot to return for Sunday's game in Baltimore.

``There's always a chance,'' Roethlisberger offered somewhat hopefully.

The lengthy list of issues still plaguing Roethlisberger more than two weeks after he sprained his right shoulder and suffered a dislocated rib in a 16-13 overtime win against Kansas City, however, suggests he's still a week away from giving it a go.

Though the pain isn't quite as intense as it was in the days after Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali drilled Roethlisberger into the soggy Heinz Field turf, the two-time Super Bowl winner can still only sleep in certain positions at night. And while he's tested the shoulder this week, he's uncertain if he can make all the throws necessary to attack Baltimore's secondary.

``Can I put a lot of zip on the ball, throw it really hard before people like Ed Reed and defenders can get to the ball?'' Roethlisberger said. ``If I can't I'm not putting us in the best situation to win the game.''

The Steelers (6-5) have struggled in Roethlisberger's absence, needing overtime to beat the woeful Chiefs before looking listless at times and sloppy at others in losses to Baltimore and Cleveland. A season that looked promising after a 24-20 win over the defending Super Bowl-champion Giants in New Jersey on Nov. 4 is suddenly on very shaky ground.

Still, don't expect Roethlisberger to push too quickly. It's something he's done in the past, with less than desired results. He played on a battered right ankle in San Francisco last year, limping around in a 20-3 loss. He ended up sitting out the next week and wasn't the same when he returned.

``We've had people talk about last year in San Francisco, if I would have rested maybe I would have been better off the next couple games but to me, I live for the here and now,'' he said. ``I'm going to do everything I can to be out there and if it doesn't work then I'll do what I can about the next week.''

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley said Roethlisberger threw ``a little bit'' on Thursday but the team continues to prepare as if Charlie Batch will make his second straight start. Batch completed 20 of 34 passes for 199 yards and three costly interceptions against the Browns, mistakes Haley attributed to rusty timing more than physical ability.

``I don't think there's any limitations to what Chuck can do,'' Haley said, ``or needs to do with the guys we have.''

Roethlisberger remains optimistic Batch can muster some of the magic that helped him lead the Steelers to three victories since 2010 while filling in for his good friend.

``I firmly believe that,'' Roethlisberger said. ``They know what he's capable of. He's been doing it a long time. They respect him. I think he's ready to rise to the occasion.''

Something the Steelers need to do if they want to build any momentum going into the final quarter of the season. A loss in a place they struggle to play well in - no matter who is behind the center - would leave them with no wiggle room whenever Roethlisberger gets back to work.

The game's importance is not lost on Roethlisberger, who will wear ``juiced up'' pads to protect his shoulder, though doctors have told him the dislocated rib no longer poses a threat to his aorta.

That's welcome news for a guy in the first days of fatherhood. Roethlisberger called being a dad ``pretty cool'' and while he's enjoyed the time at home, he's also eager to go back to his job. If he doesn't play on Sunday he'll do what he's done the last two weeks and stand on the sideline - earbuds in place - and provide the kind of insight Batch has imparted on him so many times though the years.

``It's hard for me,'' Roethlisberger said. ``You watched me during these games. I've been on the field more than most of the coaches because I'm just antsy to get out there.''

That anxiousness, however, figures to be around for at least another week.

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NOTES: While Roethlisberger is doubtful, S Troy Polamalu appears ready to play for the first time since Oct. 7. Polamalu practiced for the second straight day and barring a setback should be on the field in Baltimore. Polamalu has been limited to just five quarters all season due to a strained right calf ... Rookie G David DeCastro continued to make progress in his first week on the active roster after recovering from right knee surgery in August. Haley said he expects DeCastro to make an impact on the field before the end of the season.

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Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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