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QB Roethlisberger won't play against Ravens

Despite practicing all week and saying that he planned to play against the Ravens, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will sit out a key game in Baltimore as a precaution.

That means that Dennis Dixon, who was the Steelers' No. 3 quarterback at this time last week, will make his first NFL start tonight at M&T Bank Stadium.

Roethlisberger sustained his third football-related concussion last Sunday in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

He pulled Dixon aside Saturday morning at the team's practice facility and told the second-year man that he would get the call against the Ravens, whom the Steelers need to beat to avoid their first three-game losing streak under coach Mike Tomlin.

Roethlisberger, who said last Thursday that he had passed "thousands" of neurological tests, will dress for tonight's game and serve as the Steelers' No. 3 quarterback.

Tyler Palko, whom the Steelers signed to their 53-man roster yesterday, will back up Dixon.

As the No. 3 quarterback, Roethlisberger will not be eligible to play unless both Dixon and Palko get hurt.

The Steelers had signed Palko, the former West Allegheny High and Pitt star, to their practice squad on Wednesday.

With backup quarterback Charlie Batch out because of a broken bone in his left wrist, the Steelers also met with veteran QBs Patrick Ramsey and Todd Bouman last week.

They added Palko to their active roster — they released wide receiver Shaun McDonald to make room for him — because he has at least some knowledge of the offense, having practiced with the Steelers on Thursday and Friday.

But Palko, who was on the New Orleans Saints' active roster for four games in 2007, has never thrown a pass in the NFL.

Dixon has thrown just one pass since joining the Steelers as a fifth-round draft pick in 2008.

That pass occurred in the regular-season finale in December when he played at the end of the Steelers' 31-0 win over the Browns.

Despite Dixon's inexperience, Bruce Arians said last week that the Steelers wouldn't drastically alter the offense if the 6-3, 209-pounder is under center.

"If he's in there, we're not going to pull back and do anything different, run the ball, run the ball and punt, that kind of stuff," said Arians, the Steelers' offensive coordinator. "We're going to let him play."

In addition to Roethlisberger, the Steelers will be without one of their top defensive players against the Ravens.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu will miss his second consecutive game because of a strained posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

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