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Clark not likely to play

• Ryan Clark practiced again Friday, but the Steelers' free safety is unlikely to suit up Monday night against the Broncos due to the life-threatening complications he suffered the last time he played in Denver. If Clark doesn't play in the nationally televised game, Tyrone Carter will start in his place. Clark's blood sickled two seasons ago due to his rare form of sickle-cell trait and the high altitude in Denver. He later had to have his spleen and gall bladder removed in separate operations. "Same exact answer," Clark said of his playing status following practice. "Ya'll will know when everybody else knows Monday night. Everybody will find out together."

• Defensive end Travis Kirschke (calf strain) missed practice again. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (ankle sprain) returned to practice but was limited. Timmons said in a recent post on his blog that he is "day to day."

• Denver defensive end Ryan McBean, who has started every game this season, missed his third consecutive praactice because of a knee injury he suffered against Baltimore last week. McBean, the Steelers' fourth-round draft pick in 2007 who has 11 tackles this season, will be replaced by LeKevin Smith.

• ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden predicts a defensive struggle between the Steelers and Broncos, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being the difference-maker. "To me, that guy always finds a way in big games to deliver," Gruden said. "I realize the Steelers have had some injuries, but I'm so impressed with Roethlisberger in big games. I think it's going to come down to Big Ben in crunch time."

Digits

1 -- Steelers' wins in Denver since 1978 (2005 AFC Championship Game).

4 -- Steelers' consecutive wins on Monday Night Football.

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