OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the first official practice of the week in preparation for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens were only missing two players as right guard Marshal Yanda and cornerback Jimmy Smith were absent from the workout.
Yanda continues to nurse tweaks to his ankle and knee, but the Pro Bowl lineman is expected to be ready to play on Sunday night after he made it through a full workload against the Oakland Raiders in Week 11. The 28-year-old was injured two weeks ago in Cleveland and missed two days of practice last week before playing last Sunday.
The status of Smith remains more concerning as the second-year cornerback continues to deal with a groin injury that kept him out of last Sunday’s win over Oakland. Listed as active before the game, Smith was unable to loosen up during pre-game warmups and ultimately failed to play a snap in the 55-20 victory.
Perhaps the most telling sign of the Ravens’ concern was their decision to sign veteran cornerback Chris Johnson on Tuesday to add depth to their secondary. The 33-year-old Johnson participated in his first practice with the Ravens on Wednesday after impressing enough in Tuesday’s tryout to earn a contract.
“You can’t have enough corners,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We all know that. And, Jimmy’s got the groin issue. We are going to have to take that day by day and just see where we are at, but it helps to have Chris Johnson here.”
Meanwhile, the Ravens received good news in the form of defensive linemen Haloti Ngata (knee/shoulder) and Pernell McPhee returning to the practice field. Ngata was held out of Sunday’s win over Oakland while McPhee has missed the Ravens’ last two games as he recovers from nagging knee and thigh injuries.
Harbaugh didn’t offer much in terms of McPhee’s progress and how soon he’ll be ready to return to game action.
“He’s getting closer,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll see how he does this week.”
For Pittsburgh, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder/rib) has already been ruled out for Sunday’s game as the Steelers will now wonder if their starting signal-caller will even be available for the second bout against the Ravens in Baltimore in Week 13. Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh reporters he is also dealing with a dislocated rib that could cut into his aorta unless he gives it proper time to heal.
Even with the prognosis of Roethlisberger being out indefinitely, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs wasn’t ready to accept the Pittsburgh quarterback’s fate for Sunday, citing past instances when he played with other ailments.
“Until the ball is snapped, I’m still preparing as if he’s playing,” Suggs said. “Like I said, I saw the guy play with a broken ankle. He came down here, and I believe broke his nose, and the guy continued to play. And if you all recall, it didn’t pan out too good for us at the end of that game.”
Standout wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle), defensive end Brett Keisel (shoulder), offensive tackle Max Starks (ankle), and safety Troy Polamalu (calf) were also among those not to practice for Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Polamalu is considered highly unlikely to return to action Sunday while several reports out of Pittsburgh suggest Brown’s ankle will now be healed enough for him to play against the Ravens.
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Jimmy Smith (abs), G Marshal Yanda (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (shoulder), WR Torrey Smith (chest), G Bobbie Williams (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Sean Considine (knee/chest), LB Dannell Ellerbe (finger), S Bernard Pollard (chest), RB Ray Rice (toe), S Ed Reed (shoulder/leg/neck), LB Terrell Suggs (ankle), LB Courtney Upshaw (shoulder)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Antonio Brown (ankle), LB Chris Carter (abdomen), T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DE Brett Keisel (shoulder), S Troy Polamalu (calf), QB Ben Roethlisberger (right shoulder), T Max Starks (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Curtis Brown (quad), S Ryan Clark (concussion), CB Ivan Taylor (illness)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Rashad Mendenhall (achilles), LB Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring)