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Ward, Gay still hope to suit up for Steelers

| Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin all but ruled out Hines Ward and William Gay from playing Thursday night in Cleveland. But both players aren't quite ready to trade in their helmet for a ballcap just yet.

Ward and Gay are holding out hope they will be able to play in the key AFC North game.

"You can never count me out," Ward said Wednesday.

Ward suffered a low-grade hamstring strain on the second-to-last play of Sunday's loss to Oakland, and Gay went out with a concussion late in the game.

Ward missed practice for the second consecutive day yesterday, but Gay was back on the field with a clean bill of health and a new concussion-friendly Revolution helmet.

Gay underwent a series of post-concussion tests Monday and did so again yesterday. He has another scheduled test today.

"I was off a little bit (on the first test), but they said it was less than 24 hours (after the injury)," Gay said. "I came back and took it (Tuesday) morning and passed. I am going to do everything I can do to make sure I am well enough to play."

Gay probably has a better chance of suiting up than Ward. A Grade One hamstring tear usually takes a week to heal. Ward will have only four days.

"Today, it looked good," Ward said. "The weather will dictate a lot. You have to be smart. I want to go out there and play, but you have to be smart at the same time."

» Despite the defense not holding on to five fourth-quarter leads this season — including losses to Kansas City and Oakland — Steelers safety Ryan Clark said there isn't much he would change about how he has played this year.

"Looking back at the tape, there may be two plays that happened the entire season that I would take back, and those were in the same game in Kansas City," Clark said. "Other than that, I wouldn't take any play that I made back, and I know other guys feel the same way."

The defense has allowed six passes for 30 yards or more during their four-game losing streak. Last year, they allowed seven the entire season.

» Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took a subtle dig at teammate Hines Ward when asked if he expects Ward to play Thursday.

"Hines will do what is best for Hines, I'm sure," Roethlisberger said.

» The once happy-go-lucky Steelers locker room had sort of a down feel to it yesterday, and that was noticed by more than just a couple of players.

"You see a lot of guys bummed and down today, but nothing is going to change and give us a win over the Raiders," Roethlisberger said.

"It's real gloomy," tackle Willie Colon said. "It's not a good day."

» The Steelers-Packers game Dec. 20 at Heinz Field has been moved to a 4:15 p.m. kickoff.

» Running back Rashard Mendenhall suffered a sprained left ankle against the Raiders when a player fell on his leg, but he said yesterday that he is fine. He was limited in practice.

» Sitting out practice yesterday were Ward and safety Troy Polamalu. QB Charlie Batch went through a full practice for the first time since undergoing wrist surgery.


2 — Sacks nose tackle Casey Hampton has this year.

3 — Hampton's career high in sacks.


"Sometimes changes are made. It comes with the territory. I am pretty sure you all aren't going to be holding the microphone for the rest of your life. You all got a young cast coming in that might want to take your job. That is the nature of the game. Everybody can't hold the microphone for 60-70 years. You have to move on to the next hottest thing, and I understand that." — Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, when asked if he thinks changes will be made in the starting lineup.

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