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Steelers notebook: LB Jones questionable vs. Ravens

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 2:09 p.m.
Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones pursues Jets quarterback Geno Smith on Sunday, Oct.. 13, 2013, at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones pursues Jets quarterback Geno Smith on Sunday, Oct.. 13, 2013, at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

Rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones, diagnosed with a concussion after Sunday's win at the Jets, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against AFC North rival Baltimore at Heinz Field.

Jones was listed as full participant in practice Friday, but said he took no snaps on defense or special teams the entire week. Jason Worilds practiced with the first team, and is expected to get the starting nod for the first time since the season opener against Tennessee.

Jones said he isn't feeling any discomfort, but he was held out of practice earlier this week as a precaution.

“I felt good today. I ran around and did some things,” Jones said. “So, I'm just waiting to see what happens. I didn't get to practice but I did a good job of preparing as far as the mental stage.

“I experienced headaches earlier this week, but I'm still taking it slow because we have two days before Sunday, then we'll see what they say.”

Jones, a first-round pick from Georgia, said he wasn't sure what happened, but “after the game I experienced headaches, and I reported it to our people (team physicians),” he said. “They did the right thing in taking precautions. I went home (Sunday night), and I woke up Monday with a headache.”

Jones said the Steelers' medical staff and coaches watched film of the Steelers' 19-6 win over the Jets to determine how and if he was injured.

“I think it was just one of those things when I woke up with head problems, and they checked me out,” he said.

Wide receiver Markus Wheaton (finger) and tight end Richard Gordon (toe) are ruled out. Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert (quadriceps), defensive end Brett Keisel (abdomen), tight end Heath Miller (not injury related) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (knee) practiced Friday and are listed probable.

CB Brown showing promise

It took some time, but third-year cornerback Curtis Brown finally lined up on defense against the Jets. The Steelers' top special teams player the past two seasons, Brown is anxious to prove he can man the corner now that his nagging injuries appear behind him.

“That was a start for me,” Brown said. “Now I can see what I can do. I'm not surprised it took that long because I didn't do anything to get the opportunity because my preseason was horrible. I didn't do anything to gain snaps at cornerback. I have to wait for the opportunity if it comes. If something were to happen, that would be my opportunity.

“I've been here for a while. I have my hopes set on playing as an NFL corner. Playing special teams keep me fed, but I don't want that to be the only thing of my career.”

Ravens bring pass rush

The Steelers would like to exploit a secondary that lost future Hall of Famer Ed Reed during the offseason. But the Ravens, except for a 49-27 blowout loss to Denver on opening day, have had a pass rush (22 sacks) that's prevented the long ball.

“You have to be careful attacking them with the deep ball,” receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “They are getting after it up front with (linebacker Elvis) Dumervil and (Terrell) Suggs. At the same time, opportunities to get deep present themselves no matter who you're facing.”

New year, same look

Receiver Emmanuel Sanders said the Ravens are a different team this season, but added their coverage schemes haven't changed. “The Ravens don't play as much man coverage as the Jets,” he said. “The Ravens rely more on zone blitzes but we expect to use some man-to-man.”

Ngata, Webb questionable

Baltimore center Ryan Jensen (foot) and receiver Brandon Stokley (thigh) are doubtful. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb are among six Ravens listed questionable.

Gay: Allen still the man

Cornerback William Gay will make his second straight start ahead of Cortez Allen. But the seven-year veteran is envious of Allen.

“Personally, I'm trying to be like Cortez and Ike (Taylor),” said Gay, who's tied with a team-high two passes defended and one forced fumble. “They are tall corners with speed. They do a lot of things well, especially man-to-man coverage.” No one, though, was better in man coverage than Gay against the Jets.

Gay's biggest concern with the Ravens is their propensity to turn short routes into big gains. “We don't want yards after the catch,” he said. “They can turn a 5-yard hitch into a big play.”

Mission: Stop the run

It's simple what the Steelers have to do to stop the Ravens' offense. Defensive end Cam Heyward said “we must smash their run game.” Yet, he has a healthy respect for running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

“They don't have a Adrian Peterson kind of guy, but they pick up 20 to 30 yards,” Heyward said. “If we can get the front seven to dominate up front, it'll make it easier on the backers. We have to dominate the game up front and collapse the pocket to get free releases for the linebackers.”

“Rice can get off, so we have to stay in our gaps,” defensive end Al Woods said. “We have to let Rice come to us. But the idea is to flush him to the linebackers.”

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