BALTIMORE — The Ravens hope improved health brings better fortune after an injury-riddled and winless October to forget.
Welcoming back five key players to the starting lineup on Sunday, Baltimore aims to snap its four-game losing streak against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who come to town sporting a two-game slide of their own. Of course, first place in the AFC North is on the line as the 3-4 Ravens trail their biggest rival by just one game entering Week 9.
Despite conflicting reports throughout the week, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is active and will start less than three weeks after undergoing surgery on his left knee. The Ravens prepared all along for the veteran signal caller to play and weren’t buying the possibility of him sitting out after practicing on a limited all week.
After returning to practice late this week, veteran wide receiver Steve Smith (ankle) is active and will make his return after a two-game absence. The 37-year-old hinted on social media Sunday morning that he intended to play and went through pre-game warmups without any apparent issues.
Smith’s return is good news for quarterback Joe Flacco, who has thrown just two touchdown passes in his last five games.
As expected, linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and Terrell Suggs (biceps) and offensive linemen Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and Ronnie Stanley (foot) are active and will start after missing action last month. Stanley had missed four straight games, putting plenty of strain on an offensive line that entered the season in transition.
The Ravens will have all five members of their starting offensive line on the field for the first time since Week 3.
As expected, cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) is inactive, joining the trio of Elvis Dumervil (foot), Kamalei Correa (thigh), and Crockett Gillmore (thigh) who were officially ruled out on Friday. Elevated to the 53-man roster on Saturday, safety Matt Elam is active and will appear in his first game for the Ravens since the 2014 postseason.
With both Yanda and Stanley returning to the starting lineup, offensive lineman Ryan Jensen is a healthy scratch after starting three of the last four games.
Pittsburgh running back DeAngelo Williams (knee) is also active and will back up starter Le’Veon Bell after being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week.
These teams are meeting for the 41st time in the regular season with the Steelers leading 21-19 and holding a 9-11 record in Baltimore. Counting the postseason, the Ravens are looking for their fourth straight win over Pittsburgh, which would be a franchise best against their biggest rival.
The forecast in Baltimore calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures reaching 65 degrees with winds up to 14 miles per hour, according to Weather.com.
Referee John Hussey and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game.
The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with black pants while Pittsburgh dons its white tops with yellow pants.
Here are Sunday’s inactives:
CB Shareece Wright
LB Kamalei Correa
LB Elvis Dumervil
G Vlad Ducasse
OL Ryan Jensen
DT Willie Henry
TE Crockett Gillmore
WR Markus Wheaton
QB Zach Mettenberger
FB Roosevelt Nix
LB L.J. Fort
OT Brian Mihalik
CB Justin Gilbert
DE L.T. Walton