Quarterback Byron Leftwich said he is ready to roll on Sunday night against the Ravens after getting in three solid days of practice this week.
“I feel good,” said Leftwich. “I feel like I got more reps with the guys. I feel as though I am ready to roll. This is our last big day and now it’s time to do what you have to do and get ready to roll Sunday night.”
Leftwich is excited about the opportunity to start for the injured Ben Roethlisberger, and knows that the closer it gets to game time the more amped up he will be.
“The butterflies will come around Sunday, but that is a good thing,” said Leftwich. “I am excited. We all understand the importance of this football game. We are going to do what we have to do and try to get one more point than them.”
The Steelers will be without wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle), tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle), safety Troy Polamalu (calf), and Roethlisberger (right shoulder), but there is good news as well.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who practiced all week, is listed as probable and is expected to play.
“It’s been feeling good,” said Mendenhall. “I will just continue to grow off of that. We are just taking it a day at a time.”
Mendenhall expects the running backs to share playing time on Sunday night, and said that he doesn’t feel at all limited in what he can do.
“I wouldn’t step out there if that was the case,” said Mendenhall. “I feel good where I am. I want to continue to build on that and see what happens.”
Fellow running back Isaac Redman likes having all three backs, himself, Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer healthy, especially for such a key AFC North match-up.
“I think all three of us are going to play and keep it rolling and keep a fresh running back out there all of time,” said Redman. “We are going to try to pound them and keep a fresh running back out there.”
Linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) is questionable for the game, while cornerback Curtis Brown (quadriceps), safety Ryan Clark (concussion), defensive end Brett Keisel (shoulder), tackle Max Starks (ankle) and cornerback Ike Taylor (illness) are all probable.
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On top of that, Chadwick was diagnosed with cancer last summer, and showed amazing strength getting through it.
Now that he is in remission, he had the pleasure of having a longtime wish come true when he attended Steelers practice on Friday, meeting all of the players, and will be at the Steelers-Ravens game on Sunday night.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said his mother Paula Chadwick. “It’s a great opportunity for the whole family, especially Justin. It’s great to see him enjoy this. He deals a lot with his health and doesn’t get to do things other kids can do. It’s great he can do something like this that is a dream of his.”
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A year ago linebacker Marshall McFadden wasn’t playing football, and now this week he is busy preparing for Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers placed linebacker Chris Carter on injured reserve with an abdominal injury and signed McFadden off of their practice squad.
McFadden will be utilized on special teams, playing on punt and kickoff coverage and return units.
“That is one of the reasons they are bringing me up, for special teams,” said McFadden. “If I can help by going out here and being a special teams’ player that is what I will do, put my hand in the pile.”
McFadden was not on an NFL roster in 2011, but was signed by the Steelers last January. He was released prior to the start of this season and re-signed to the practice squad.
“This means a lot,” said McFadden. “Sitting on the couch last year and not being with a team, it means a lot. I came a long way. It shows how dedicated I was to the game by working hard. It’s a blessing.
“When I came into this whole situation I wanted to do my best. I set a goal for myself and it was to get better each day and that is what I have done. I haven’t taken any steps backwards and I think that is why they feel comfortable with me.”
McFadden, who played at South Carolina State, said it has been hard watching the action for most of the season without playing and is happy to now have the opportunity.
“You go out here and compete,” said McFadden. “Football players are competitors and you want to play. But sometimes you have to wait for your turn. Until then you can only sit back and watch and learn. Once you get your chance you have to take advantage of it.”
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