OWINGS MILLS — Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was noncommittal regarding his status for Sunday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a knee injury.
However, he’s regarded as a major question mark due to his sprained medial collateral ligament.
Suggs missed the first game of his career last week during a 17-15 loss against the Indianapolis Colts after being injured against the Cleveland Browns on Brady Quinn’s illegal block, and said he’s making steady progress.
"It’s coming along," Suggs said Thursday during his first comments this week. "I don’t think I’ll be out too much longer."
Suggs is still limping noticeably, but acknowledged that since it’s the Steelers he’s extremely motivated to get back on the field sooner.
He made no predictions or guarantees about Sunday.
"We’ll have to see when I get there," Suggs said. "We don’t know right now. It could go either way, but it is the Steelers.
"It is accelerated because it’s the Steelers. But like I said, we’ve got to see how it feels Sunday night."
During 13 career games against the Steelers, Suggs has recorded 50 tackles and 10 sacks.
Despite a serious shoulder injury, he fought through the pain to sack Ben Roethlisberger twice during last season’s AFC title game.
Suggs said he’s taking into account the possibility of aggravating the knee.
“With any injury, if you come back too soon, you can make it worse,” he said. “I’m not worried about that. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my teammates.
“If it’s able to go and hold up in a NFL game, then you go. It’s a no-brainer. We’ve got to wait and see what happens.”
Meanwhile, middle linebacker Ray Lewis (foot) and free safety Ed Reed (foot) didn’t practice for the second day in a row.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (sprained right ankle) was limited again.
The Ravens upgraded center Matt Birk (neck) and tight end Todd Heap (ribs) to full participation after Birk didn’t practice Wednesday and Heap was limited.
“I’m improving every day,” Heap said.
Also practicing on a full-time basis: linebacker Jarret Johnson (left shoulder) and tight end L.J. Smith (illness).
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (concussion) participated fully in practice for the second consecutive day.
Not practicing: quarterback Charlie Batch (wrist), safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee).
Defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf) and running back Willie Parker (hip) were limited.
Wide receiver Hines Ward and linebacker James Farrior were removed from the injury report after being given the day off Wednesday for non-injury related reasons.
STEELERS’ KICKOFF COVERAGE STRUGGLING: The Steelers’ kickoff coverage has been suspect all year, allowing an NFL-high four kickoff returns for touchdowns.
That’s the most of any team over the past decade, ranking last in the NFL in kickoff coverage. They only have one touchback.
“It all starts with the kickers,” special-teams ace David Tyree said. “They have needed a certain level of consistency in their kicking. They know what we’re capable of doing on all units, especially kickoff return.”
The Ravens rank eighth in the league with an average start of their 28.2-yard line on kickoffs.
“We’ve missed some tackles,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’ve got to exhibit the passion that’s required to play that and maybe we’ve lacked a little bit in that regard. We’ve acquired some men that I think will bring some passion to it.
“And we’ve got to be a little bit better schematically. I think when you’ve failed the way we’ve failed in that area, you’ve got to look at all aspects of it, which we are, and make an accounting of it.”
The Steelers signed former Ravens cornerback Corey Ivy and linebacker Rocky Boiman to shore up the special teams.
“Quite simply, he’s a guy with about 96 or 98 career special teams tackles,” Tomlin said of Ivy. “So, you’re not speculating what he’s capable of doing in that area.”
Tomlin emphasized that the Steelers didn’t sign Ivy to pick his brain about the Ravens.
“We know the Ravens pretty good, just like they know us pretty good,” Tomlin said. “Corey’s presence here has nothing to do with insight, and more to do with the ability to make plays in the special-teams game.”
Ravens rookie Lardarius Webb has already returned one kickoff for a touchdown this season.
“We’re always looking to break one,” Webb said. “We’re always trying to attack and study people to get an edge.”
TRYOUT: The Steelers tried out veteran quarterbacks Patrick Ramsey and Todd Bouman just in case Roethlisberger’s concussion is an issue.
They also increased the practice snaps for backup Dennis Dixon.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged that he’s not exactly feeling assured if Dixon has to play.
“Not very comfortable of course when we start talking about a young third quarterback,” Tomlin said. “If we do have to go with him, we’ll be thoughtful in terms of the position that we put him in, no question. Whether or not we have three quarterbacks remains to be seen.”
TRYOUT II: The Ravens tried out punter Brandon Stevens this week to prepare for the Steelers’ punter Daniel Sepulveda.
THANKSGIVING: Ravens coach John Harbaugh ran a morning practice before dismissing the players for the holiday. It was moved up roughly an hour, which was a popular schedule change.
“We appreciate that, you bet,” nose guard Kelly Gregg said. “We get to spend more time with the family and relax.”
Running back Ray Rice said he lost five pounds during practice and planned to gain all of it back during a Thanksgiving feast prepared by his mother, Janet Rice.
Rice’s mother drove down from New York to begin cooking a big dinner for Rice and several of his teammates.
“I invited everybody over, so anyone who comes over is more than welcome,” Rice said. “I’ll probably gain back some weight. I can’t do without my mom’s macaroni and cheese.”
QUICK HITS: Defensive end Dwan Edwards is still waiting to hear from the league office about his appeal of his $5,000 fine for his jarring hit on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Joshua Cribbs. “I don’t know how long it will take,” he said. “I feel good about my chances.” … Wide receiver Justin Harper is pretending to be Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes this week on the scout team. … Steelers wide receiver Heath Miller is often overlooked for recognition in league circles despite his steady blocking and reliable hands. Miller has caught 54 passes for 492 yards and five touchdowns. “He’s a versatile guy,” Heap said. “He can do a lot of different things. He blocks. He runs great routes and he catches very well.” … The Steelers aren’t expecting to have Polamalu on the field for at least another few weeks. Tyrone Carter will start in his place. “Troy’s a special player,” Tomlin said. “It’d probably the equivalent of the Ravens’ defense without Ed Reed. I don’t know that you can quantify the impact. You acknowledge that there’s a difference, but, at the same time, you understand that the standard is the standard is the standard and we have to play winning football.” … Tomlin was flattered by the Ravens unveiling their rally towel to try to match the Steelers’ Terrible Towel. “I really think it’s a compliment,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.