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McNair ready to start against Pittsburgh

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Rejuvenated after resting his banged-up body, Ravens quarterback Steve McNair plans to be back under center Sunday for the first time in nearly a month.

Since missing two starts and recuperating from back and groin injuries during Baltimore's off week, McNair is preparing to start Monday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers for his first action since an Oct. 7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

"I felt good, the two or three weeks I had off were good for the body," McNair said Thursday. "It gave me time to heal up. It's kind of tough when you have injuries to go out there and compete. Overall, I'm feeling good."

His teammates and the coaching staff are impressed with how he delivered the football during the Ravens' most strenuous workout so far this week.

"He's alive and well," wide receiver Mark Clayton said. "A healthy Steve is very good. It's great to have our starting quarterback refreshed and re-energized. He threw the ball on the money."

McNair has been limited to four starts for Baltimore (4-3) due to injuries. He didn't finish two of those games.

"I don't mean to be the doctor here, but I think he's 100 percent healthy," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Obviously, there's freshness after the last three weeks. He's throwing the ball extremely well."

McNair has completed 65.6 percent, throwing two touchdowns with two interceptions for an 80.2 quarterback rating. Now that McNair is healthier, he's hoping to take advantage of increased mobility to make a few plays on the run.

"I think you just go out there and make better plays," McNair said. "I think that's going to be the key regardless of how you keep the chains moving. Whether it's throwing the ball or it's taking off running, now that I'm healthy I can do a lot of different things."

Over his past six starts dating to the regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills and the Ravens' playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, McNair has thrown two touchdown passes and committed eight turnovers, including five interceptions.

He has a strong track record, though, against Pittsburgh (5-2), which owns a one-game advantage in the AFC North heading into Monday. McNair is 11-4 against the Steelers, including a 5-3 road record and a 102.8 quarterback rating in Pittsburgh, with 21 career touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

However, McNair is banking on not sailing the ball and overthrowing receivers as he did earlier this season now that his throwing motion is back to normal.

"Mostly, I used my arm," McNair said. "Now, I can go ahead and make sure I can follow through with the right technique. Mainly as a quarterback, you have to have the right techniques. Now that I got them back, things will work out."

Notes: CB Chris McAlister seems unlikely to return from a knee injury against the Steelers. He hasn't practiced all week. "We'll have to see how the week progresses, but that would be the one I'm most concerned about," Billick said. ... OTs Jonathan Ogden (turf toe) and Adam Terry (sprained ankle) and C Mike Flynn (sprained knee) practiced and appear to be on track to start against Pittsburgh.

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