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Ward likely out for Browns game

• Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward appears to be a longshot to play in the Steelers' 8:20 p.m. game Thursday at Cleveland.

Ward sustained a mild hamstring pull near the end of Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Oakland Raiders. The short week for the Steelers does not bode well for the 12th-year veteran playing against the Browns.

"Not favorable for him," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee) will almost certainly miss his fourth consecutive game.

Polamalu has missed the past three games with a strained posterior collateral ligament (PCL) in his left knee.

Tomlin said, "I don't think he's going to be able to play in this football game."

• Rookie Mike Wallace is expected to start at wide receiver opposite Santonio Holmes if Ward is unable to play. Tomlin said Limas Sweed could also see his first significant action since late September at wideout. "We may need Limas Sweed in some of the big-bodied things that Hines Ward does because Hines Ward is a unique guy," Tomlin said. The Steelers may also add a wide receiver to their 53-man roster before Thursday since they would only have three wideouts against the Browns if Ward is held out. Shaun McDonald, who was released Nov. 28 to make room for quarterback Tyler Palko, is the most likely candidate to be signed.

• Defensive end Travis Kirschke, who didn't play against the Raiders because of a calf injury, is expected to suit up against the Browns, Tomlin said.

• Running back Rashard Mendenhall will be limited in practice today because of swelling in his ankle but he will play in Cleveland, Tomlin said.

• Quarterback Charlie Batch will try to practice today for the first time since undergoing surgery in late November to repair a broken bone in his left wrist. Tomlin said Batch will wear a soft cast on his injured wrist.

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