Hines Ward caught a short red-zone flip from Ben Roethlisberger and ran it for a touchdown near the end of practice yesterday, his first serious preparation for the Baltimore Ravens this week.
Though he didn't participate in the entire practice and the Steelers continue to list him as questionable, the Pro Bowl wideout was at least moderately encouraged.
"I pushed it, but I didn't push it to 100 percent," Ward said of the knee that was injured in the fourth quarter of the game at Cleveland last week.
"[Trainer] John [Norwig] taped it up like he would for a game, and I've been taking a lot of extra treatment, seems like 24 hours of treatment. From where I started Monday to where I was [yesterday], it's improved dramatically."
Asked if the Ravens might target the injury tomorrow, Ward said, "Knowing them, probably so."
Ward had six catches for 72 yards in a second half in which the Steelers overcame three 10-point deficits last Sunday. The only receiver in club history with 600 catches, Ward's presence is of particular importance tomorrow, not only because he is a favorite red-zone target of Roethlisberger (only Indianapolis Marvin Harrison, with 29, has more red-zone touchdowns than Ward's 27 in the past five years) but because he's a veteran of 16 Steelers-Ravens episodes while none of Big Ben's other receivers has played in three.
Ward needs five touchdown catches in the season's final six games to tie Hall of Famer John Stallworth for the Steelers'all-time lead at 63. He needs 4 rushing yards to become the team's all-time leader in rushing by a receiver.
Porter's statistics get boost
The folks at Elias again have come to the midweek statistical aid of outside linebacker Joey Porter, who yesterday was credited with an extra half sack from the Cleveland game. Originally, the fourth-quarter toppling of Browns quarterback Charlie Frye Sunday was recorded as a half sack each for Porter and defensive end Brett Keisel.
Keisel now has three sacks for the season, and Porter five. With 58 for his career, Porter needs two sacks to pass Keith Willis for fourth place on the Steelers' all-time list behind Jason Gildon (77), L.C. Greenwood (73.5) and Joe Greene (66).
Kick-returner Willie Reid, listed as doubtful for the Baltimore game as recently as Thursday, will not play. Running back/kick-returner Najeh Davenport was upgraded to probable yesterday. Linebackers Clark Haggans and James Harrison, center Jeff Hartings, and cornerback Deshea Townsend are all probable.
In Baltimore, linebacker Ray Lewis, offensive guard and former Steeler Keydrick Vincent, tight ends Daniel Wilcox and Todd Heap, and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards remained questionable. Safety Ed Reed and linebacker Adalius Thomas are probable.
Some good numbers
Ben Roethlisberger will go into the game Sunday having thrown for more yards in his previous four starts, 1,270 than in any four-game stretch of his career.
Roethlisberger, who made his NFL debut against the Ravens in 2004, has 44 completions in 69 attempts in three games in this series for 574 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions.