Hines Ward misses practice again
Receiver Hines Ward missed practiced Thursday for the second straight day with a sore ankle.
Emmanuel Sanders said he's the likely starter if Ward can't suit up against New England on Sunday.
"If he can't go, I am the starter, but as of right now, we're going with (Ward)," said Sanders, who has scored twice on 13 catches this season. "I saw him running today. Things are looking good."
Linebacker James Farrior was limited in practice with a calf injury. Linebackers James Harrison (eye) and Jason Worilds (quadricep) were among four others who didn't practice, including nose tackle Chris Hoke (neck) and guard Doug Legursky (toe).
"We just have to wait and see," defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of Farrior's injury. "He was pretty good today, I thought, and we'll just see. That'll be up to the doctors anyhow."
• The Patriots lead the AFC in yards after a catch with nearly 1,016, according to Stats, LLC. Flanker Wes Welker has a league-high 397 yards after a catch, and tight end Rob Gronkowski has 213. New England is third-best in the NFL behind leader New Orleans (1,229 yards) and Green Bay (1,158). "It's reflective mostly of (quarterback Tom Brady) hitting them in stride," LeBeau said. "They have some gifted receivers who take the ball and run with it. How do you defend that• You tackle them when they catch it and not allow those yards after the catch to occur."
• Steelers players insist they don't pay attention to numbers, but they are fully aware of their significance. They know that Brady has a thrown touchdown pass in 22 straight games and that he's on pace to pass for nearly 6,000 yards this season. They know, too, that Brady has thrown only three interceptions in leading the Patriots to a 4-1 record against the Steelers. "A good NFL team doesn't get caught up in numbers because numbers don't matter when it comes time to line up on Sunday," cornerback William Gay said. Added offensive tackle Jonathan Scott: "Jacksonville had the best defense, numbers-wise, when we played them, and we handled them. You have to throw numbers out of the window."
• The Steelers have talked this week about controlling the clock. New England won the battle of the clock in last year's meeting, 31:28 to 28:32. "We can't go out have three-and-outs," wide receiver Mike Wallace said.
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