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Roethlisberger ponders options for Baltimore

Tight end Ladarius Green (concussion) was among the Steelers who didn't practice today.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger appreciates as much as anyone what the Steelers would be missing should Green be unable to play on Sunday against Baltimore.

"He's a weapon," Roethlisberger assessed. "He can do so many different things. He can run routes like a receiver and have the speed. But he can be a big guy that you can use in certain situations, high balls and things like that. His growth has just been by leaps and bounds. For a guy that didn't play much at all early and didn't do much in training camp, for him to be able to do the things that he's been able to do, it's just been awesome.

"He's still learning, still getting better. Early in (the Cincinnati) game there were a couple of times I even told him I felt like he could have run a better route or done something different. But what you see from him and what I told him after the game I was so proud of is late in the game he learns from those things and he catches a huge third-and-17 (in the third quarter). And then he catches the other third down, down the middle (third-and-8 in the fourth quarter). He makes those plays, he comes back. He doesn't let it get him down if he and I aren't on the same page early.

The Steelers prepare for the Week 16 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

"To me, that just shows a guy that is a team guy and a guy that's wiling to do anything to help us win."

In the event Green isn't available, "Other guys have to step up," Roethlisberger said.

Candidates to do so would include:

-Tight ends Jesse James, David Johnson and Xavier Grimble: "'D.J.,' 'X,' Jesse, we have guys that have been here all year doing this stuff," Roethlisberger said.

-Wide receiver Eli Rogers: "He'll have to keep doing what he's been doing," Roethlisberger said. "Last time we played (the Ravens) Eli was big, especially late when we were throwing the ball a lot. He made a couple plays (in Cincinnati). He's growing, as well, he's getting better. We have to remember this is his first year playing, and that's still a rookie. He's growing every week, as well."

-Wide receiver Sammie Coates: "He's coming back to us," Roethlisberger said. "It's not easy to have those (broken) fingers. You've really seen him play well on special teams and start to really do so more on offense. I'll just keep challenging him to come back and be the best he can be and help us offensively."


RAVENS UNRIVALED:** Nearing the end of his third regular season with the Steelers, free safety Mike Mitchell recalled what he learned upon reporting for his first.

"When I got here, it was just 'you don't like Baltimore,'" Mitchell remembered. "It was kind of like growing up in the Cold War or something, you just don't like Russia. I don't know, that's just how it is. Cincinnati was kind of new, that kind of just developed on us. But I think that's kind of how the games got played, is how that got to how it is.

"It is what it is."

HE SAID IT: "It's what you play for. It's the AFC North Championship Game for us. It's big." _ Mitchell on Sunday.

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