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Steelers notebook: Concussion could sideline rookie LB Jones vs. Ravens

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones rushes Jets quarterback Geno Smith in the first quarter on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 1:57 p.m.

The Ravens are trying for their fourth consecutive regular-season win at Heinz Field, something no opposing team has done.

Only the Patriots and Jaguars have won three straight at Heinz, and each required a playoff game to do so; Jacksonville won in successive months in December 2007 and January 2008.

The Ravens have won 13 of their last 15 against the AFC North.

• Running back Le'Veon Bell gave himself a “D-plus” for being held to 34 yards on 16 carries against the Jets and 92 yards in his first two NFL starts. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley grades on a higher scale. “Each week he's gotten better and we expect that to continue,” Haley said. “He's been a boost for us in the run game and we've got to continue to make progress.”

Zoltan Mesko's 42.7 yards punting average is well off his career-best 46.5 for the Patriots two seasons ago, but the Steelers' emphasis on hang time and kicking to a spot might be affecting that. “We do try to go directional ... (but) I would like to hit a better ball at times at times,” he said. “I haven't gotten the full potential out of some kicks. But whatever the team needs to me to do, I will, if that helps us win.”

• Defensive end Brett Keisel (abdomen), tight end Heath Miller (no injury) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (knee) were full practice participants Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert (quadriceps) was limited, and newly acquired tight end Richard Gordon (toe) was out.

Kelvin Beachum has played tackle, guard, center and tight end, but Haley said he's now a left tackle — period. “Every time we say he's this, he shows us he can be something more,” Haley said. “That's happened at every position. Now it's left tackle; this will be his biggest test to date.”

Jerricho Cotchery made five catches for 103 yards against the Vikings on Sept. 29 but didn't make a catch while playing only 19 snaps Sunday against the Jets, his former team. Fullback Will Johnson played two more snaps than that as the Steelers employed extra protection packages to counter what Cotchery called “the exotic blitzes” of Jets coach Rex Ryan.

Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,053 yards in three games and is on pace for a career-high 4,800 yards. His best total was 4,328 yards in 2009.

— Alan Robinson

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