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Steelers notebook: Rodgers out; Keisel probable versus Packers

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Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, 7:36 p.m.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned to practice this week but will not play in Sunday's game against the Steelers.

The Steelers prepared for the Packers as if Rodgers would be in the lineup.

“It does matter whether he plays or not, but it won't change how we prepare,” linebacker Lawrence Timmons said.

“With Rodgers in the lineup, it makes their offense completely different,” Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen said. “He's very good at what he does. It's exciting to be able to go against a quarterback of that caliber.”

Reserve veteran quarterback Matt Flynn, who Sunday rallied the Packers to a 37-36 win at Dallas after Green Bay trailed 26-3 at halftime, will be the starter at storied Lambeau Field.

“(Flynn) isn't as mobile as Rodgers, but he has a strong arm,” Timmons said. “He might be somewhat limited, but he looked like a starting quarterback against Dallas.”

• Defensive end Brett Keisel, who has missed four games because of a foot injury, is among eight Steelers listed as probable for Sunday's game at Green Bay. All eight players participated fully in practice, including receivers Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder) and Emmanuel Sanders (foot). Also, offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee), guard Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and defensive tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) are probable, and all said they expect to suit up. Safety Troy Polamalu and tight end Heath Miller are listed with non-injury related status.

• In a game in which size in the trenches might matter, Beachum spent plenty of time in the film room studying Packers defensive tackles John Jolly, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett. “They have some big houses inside,” Beachum said. “They have a host of guys who can cause some problems. With the weather being bad, we have to protect the quarterback.”

• Running back Le'Veon Bell said Friday he is thrilled about the opportunity to square up against Green Bay's rookie Eddie Lacy. The Steelers drafted Bell over Lacyl, which makes for an intriguing matchup. Bell, though, said he's more anxious about having a chance to carry the load on a day in which the temperature could be below 10 degrees. “I was born and raised in cold weather, so I'm used to it,” he said. “As a runner, I look forward to the cold games. ”

— Ralph N. Paulk

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