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Ward passes concussion tests, expected to play against Raiders

• Hines Ward has passed the battery of tests that Steelers players are required to take after suffering a concussion, and the veteran wide receiver is expected to play Sunday. Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that the Steelers will monitor Ward throughout the week. If Ward doesn't experience any post-concussion symptoms, he will suit up against the Raiders. Ward got knocked out of Sunday night's game against the Patriots at the end of the first quarter. He said after the Steelers' 39-26 loss that he should have been allowed to return to the game. Tomlin confirmed that Ward passed a concussion test administered to him at Heinz Field but said that the Steelers didn't want to take any chances. "I think we're all pretty familiar with the climate that we're in, in regards to concussions," Tomlin said at his weekly news conference. "Sometimes, you've got to protect the extreme competitors from themselves, and Hines is that. We love and respect him for that, but we had to act in his best interests."

• Starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu (knee and ankle sprains) and inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (hip contusion) are expected to play Sunday, Tomlin said. Timmons and strong safety Troy Polamalu (strained Achilles tendon) will be limited in practice during the early part of the week. Starting defensive end Brett Keisel (hamstring), cornerback Crezdon Butler (quadriceps strain) and safety Will Allen (concussion) are all questionable for the 1 p.m. game against the Raiders. Allen, Tomlin said, was on track to play against the Bengals but started experiencing headaches the day before the game.

Tomlin's take

On the amount of time Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had to throw this past Sunday against the Steelers:

"The vast majority of the game, I thought he was making quick decisions and getting the ball out of his hands on a myriad of short routes and underneath throws where pass rush is less of a factor. So I wouldn't point to that as the central reason we were unable to slow those guys down. It was really just a complete body of work, or an efficient performance by them and a lack of by us."

On the play of the Steelers' cornerbacks in Sunday's 39-26 loss:

"Our pass defense is the combination of a lot of people, not only corners but safeties and linebackers and so forth. A lot of the things that went on in that game, many of them were underneath throws and things of that nature that aren't directly involving cornerback play. We all accept responsibility for our inability to consistently stop the New England Patriots. Coaches, players, everyone."

On the left side of the offensive line's play against the Patriots:

"I thought those guys did a serviceable job but being a results-oriented guy, it wasn't enough. The same can be said for my performance."

On Sunday's game against the Raiders, winners of three straight:

"This is the kind of opponent that we need coming off our last performance. We've got to get back in the world of the competent and the competing."

On Raiders tight end Zach Miller, who leads the team in receiving:

"Their tight end is as good and as complete a tight end as you're going to find in football. This guy is capable of doing it all, similar to our (Heath) Miller. He's good on the line of scrimmage, good at blocking. He's a vertical threat."

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