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Old 12-05-2010, 08:49 AM   #1
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Default Steelers at Ravens: 5 Questions

Steelers at Ravens: 5 Questions
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday December 4, 2010 10:25 PM

Q: Will there be a lot of towels being waved tonight at M&T Bank Stadium.

A: Yes, but there won’t be many black and gold Terrible Towels. For the second straight year, the Ravens will pass out 71,000 purple and white towels to their fans.

Ravens management has asked their fans attending the game to wear purple in what the team is calling a “purple out.”

Q: What milestone has James Harrison achieved this season?

A: Overshadowed by all the fines the NFL has levied against Harrison is the fact he’s playing at a very high level. Harrison, the Steelers’ right outside linebacker, has 10 sacks on the year. He’s now posted 10 or more sacks for three straight seasons. He had 16 in 2008 when he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and 10 in 2009.

Harrison is the first Steeler to ever have 10 sacks or more in three consecutive seasons. He's virtual lock to make the Pro Bowl for the fourth straight year.

Q: How are the Steelers faring in fans’ Pro Bowl vote?

A: Three Steelers are among the top vote-getters at their positions in the AFC. They are linebacker James Harrison, strong safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Keyaron Fox for special teams play.

Meanwhile, the Ravens have five leaders in the fans’ vote: inside linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, fullback Le'Ron McClain and left tackle Michael Oher.

Fan, player and coach ballots each count 1/3 toward the rosters for each conference. Fans can vote at www.NFL.com/probowl or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nfl.

Balloting concludes Monday, Dec. 20. The AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters will be announced at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28 on the Pro Bowl Selection Show on the NFL Network.
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Q: If Ben Roethlisberger can’t play tonight or leaves the game with an injury, who replaces him?

A: Even though Byron Leftwich hasn’t taken a snap in a regular-season game since Sept. 27, 2009 when he played in Tampa Bay, he’s the Steelers’ backup QB.

Charlie Batch started the Steelers’ third and fourth games this year while Roethlisberger was finishing up his four-game suspension (Dennis Dixon started the first two games). Batch played well in a 38-13 win at Tampa (three TD passes and a 106.5 passer rating). But he didn’t played that well a week later in a 17-14 loss to Baltimore (only 141 passing yards, no TDs, one interception and a 57.8 passer rating).

Since Roethlisberger returned, Leftwich has been the backup and Batch the No. 3 QB.

Leftwich was signed to start the first four games of the season while Roethlisberger was on suspension. But he suffered a knee sprain in the final preseason game.

Q: When will Aaron Smith play again this year?

A: Smith, the Steelers’ rock-solid veteran defensive end, has not played since tearing a triceps muscle in the Oct. 24 win in Miami. Immediately after that game, it was believed Smith wouldn’t play again this year. But two days later, the Steelers decided not to put him on injured reserve. There’s hope he'll play again at some point this year. Smith’s rehab is well ahead of schedule. So don’t be surprised if he returns as early as the Dec. 19 game against the N.Y. Jets or the Dec. 23 game against Carolina. “He is a week closer,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We are actually going to take some hard core looks at pictures of his progress, probably the first of next week, so I might have a significant update.”
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