Steelers Wednesday Notebook

Roethlisberger, Lewis texting buddies; benefits of light Wednesday practices; Ray Rice and injury updates; Troy Polamalu on the 18-game schedule.

PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger won't be allowed in the Steelers' practice facility until Monday, but that hasn't stopped him from staying in touch with teammates and even opponents this week.

Hines Ward texted the suspended Steelers quarterback this week to let him know the team's excited about his pending return. Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens has done the same, but to provide advice.

Lewis, of course, had manslaughter charges against him dropped in 2000 in exchange for testimony against two companions and a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice. Lewis was fined $250,000 by the league but was not suspended. The Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl that season.

"I text him and he texts me," Lewis said. "It's a respect for each other, but more importantly it's a respect for yourself. You're not trying to please the world. If you try to please the world, you're going to confuse yourself. If you're going to worry about what people say about you, you're going to confuse yourself. All you got to do is move on, live on. Whatever he put behind him as a man and what he put behind him for what he's going through, leave it there. Don't let nobody pull you back into it. Don't let nobody keep talking about it. Once it's done, it's done."

Lewis said Roethlisberger texted him Tuesday night.

"Just simple stuff," Lewis said. "He wishes he was out there. It's a respect thing that we have playing against each other.

"This is not the first time he texted me. We texted each other every time when he was going through what he was going through. I told him I was there for him. It's more of a brotherhood. The game always takes care of itself on the field. But off the field, if we don't look out for each other, nobody else will."

EASY, LIKE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOONS

For the second consecutive Wednesday, the Steelers practiced without pads. Yesterday's workout was actually a walk-through, with the emphasis on walk.

"It's something coach Tomlin started last week," said Ward. "He doesn't want to grind us on Wednesday and the guys responded very well. Last week we didn't have many mental errors. That was probably the best mental-error sheet we've had since I've been here. We only had like two mental errors.

"You still can go through a walk-through on Wednesday and still put the production down like we did last Sunday. I hope we continue to get more days like this because there wasn't a guy who played last Sunday who didn't put it all on the line. We were fresh."

The Steelers will practice in pads on Thursday, but will enjoy another walk-through on Friday, per the usual routine.

TREAD ON THE TIRES

Charlie Batch's 24-yard scramble last Sunday at Tampa Bay not only moved the chains on third-and-6, and set up the Steelers' second touchdown, it was the longest run of Batch's 13-year career. His previous long run was 19 yards against Indianapolis in 2000 – when he was 25 years old.

"Yeah, well, I've got the wheels," he said with a laugh. "Really, for me, I didn't even think about it. It was second nature. I saw the middle open up and I was just trying to get the first down, then all of the sudden I felt I could get more yardage. I think it caught (Antwaan) Randle El off guard because he still ran his route and was looking at me like, ‘Throw the football.' But I was like, ‘I passed the line about five yards ago. What are you doing?' It was something at that point that it never entered my mind to slide, just get as much yardage as possible. Then I found out it was the longest run of my career."

Did it matter that it was Barrett Ruud patrolling the middle of the defense and not Lewis?

"Linebackers is linebackers," Batch said. "In a quarterback's mind, the one thing you don't want is to get hit at all."

INJURY REPORT

Sitting out Wednesday for the Steelers were QB Dennis Dixon (knee), RG Trai Essex (ankle) and NT Chris Hoke (knee).

Ruled out of the game for the Ravens were LB Tavares Gooden and WR Donte Stallworth. Missing Wednesday's practice were OT Tony Mott (hip), DE Cory Redding (head) and RB Ray Rice (knee).

Steelers linebacker James Harrison was asked about the Ravens' alternatives if Rice couldn't play.

"He's going to play," growled Harrison. "It's the Steelers. He's not going to let a little knee contusion keep him out. He'll be there."

QUOTABLE

* Troy Polamalu on the potential 18-game NFL schedule:

"Under one circumstance: That would be if they guaranteed contracts. I'd say the NFLPA would have no problem with that. … I doubt that would ever happen."

* Ravens coach John Harbaugh on his brother Jim's 4-0 Stanford team:

"They're kicking so much ass, I don't know if they have time to take names."


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