Pittsburgh Steelers with a singular focus at start of practice week for Ravens

The Steelers focused on the Ravens, but were asked about the Pro Bowl voting and a few other amusing topics in this mid-week holiday notebook.

PITTSBURGH -- Perhaps he was taking his cue from Mike Tomlin's no-nonsense press conference of the previous day, but Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wasn't in the mood for much holiday merriment Wednesday.

Roethlisberger set his tone with reporters after he was asked about the comparison of this Steelers offense to the old St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf."

"We play on grass," Roethlisberger said.

It was no doubt a measured tone for a team that's going into Baltimore on Sunday to face a depleted 4-10 Ravens squad which will be playing for nothing but pride, while the 9-5 Steelers are playing for their playoff lives.

There's only one thing on the Steelers' minds this Christmas week, and it's "Baltimore," Roethlisberger said. "That’s the only thing creeping into anybody’s mind."

It would seem to be an easy task for the Steelers, who are playing a Ravens team still deciding between Jimmy Clausen, Matt Schaub and recently acquired Ryan Mallet as their quarterback.

But the Steelers apparently won't allow even a hint of disrespect to creep into their language, or -- as Roethlisberger put it -- their minds.

Maybe Roethlisberger and Tomlin have looked at the history books. The Steelers have played in Baltimore only two times in December as playoff combatants while the Ravens had been eliminated. And both times -- 2007 and 1996 -- the Ravens won.

So it was with all seriousness that Roethlisberger faced the media Wednesday to talk about the Ravens.

"They beat us here," he said sternly. "So there's a lot of focus going into it."


A few weeks back the NFL moved this Steelers-Ravens game out of the Sunday night prime-time TV spot to the more traditional 1 p.m. starting time.

"This will be the first time that I can remember playing a 1 p.m. game there, at least it seems like it," Roethlisberger said. "But I still expect it to be hostile and crazy."

The Steelers played the 2011 season opener at Baltimore at 1 p.m.. Prior to that, the teams played 1 p.m. games in Baltimore from 2004-06 during the Roethlisberger era. He, in fact, made his professional debut during the 2004 game.

The Ravens won all four of those 1 p.m. games.


Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for catching 16 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns against Denver. It marked his eighth 100-yard game of the season, which is tied for first in the NFL, and his fourth double-digit catch game of the season, tying his own team record.

Brown became the second player (Wes Welker) in NFL history with at least 110 receptions in three straight seasons. He also set the NFL record for most receptions in any three consecutive seasons (355) during Sunday’s game.

This marks the first time Brown has been named AFC Offensive Player of the Week. In November he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month.


If anyone's ever been ignored for deserved recognition, or has a child who's been passed over for same, take a listen to Cam Heyward, who was snubbed Tuesday night by Pro Bowl voters:

"Oh, well," said Heyward. "I didn't live up to their standards, so I just have to keep getting better and trying to improve."

That's pretty much what Marcus Gilbert said as well after he and Heyward were left off the Pro Bowl team, which includes Roethlisberger, Brown and David DeCastro from the Steelers.

Gilbert at least was happy for his linemate DeCastro.

"I'd rather be playing in the Super Bowl," Gilbert said. "I'm just happy for Dave that he made it so he can represent our offensive line."

It's DeCastro's first time being voted to the Pro Bowl. Roethlisberger and Brown were each named for the fourth time.


After practice, Tomlin strolled around the locker room to drop tidbits in player's ears. For instance, he said hello to Ramon Foster, who in turn asked Tomlin how he was doing.

"I just want to eat this week," Tomlin said.

When he wasn't dropping motivational hints, Tomlin was busting chops. That was his intention when he sat down next to James Harrison.

"Cam Heyward just bought us all Apple watches," said Harrison. "I can't wait to see what you're getting us."

"Me?" Tomlin said with a laugh. "I'm getting you a Bengals varsity jacket."

"Oh really," Harrison said as the crowd around him oohed and aahed.

"Yeah, Deebo's lettered with every AFC North team except Cleveland," Tomlin said. "He's gonna do that next year."

The line broke up everyone standing near the locker. Even Harrison had to laugh.


The only Steelers player to miss practice with an injury was safety Mike Mitchell (shoulder). Harrison and Will Gay were given the afternoon off.

Missing practice for the Ravens were WR Marlon Brown (back), LB Albert McClellan (ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (thigh) and OT Ricky Wagner (knee).

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