Will Big Ben, Polamalu play Sunday vs. Ravens?

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Will Big Ben, Polamalu play Sunday vs. Ravens?

From Comcast SportsNetPITTSBURGH (AP) -- Ben Roethlisberger took a break from changing his newborn son's diapers to throw a few passes with his sprained right shoulder on Monday.The Pittsburgh Steelers saw enough to ask their franchise quarterback to throw a few more over the next few days, hoping he can recover in time to salvage a season in danger of slipping through their fingers.Calling the session "a step in the right direction," coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday there's "a chance" Roethlisberger could play on Sunday in Baltimore."We'll leave the door open," Tomlin said.Or maybe just closed, but not locked.Roethlisberger hasn't played since getting slammed to the turf in the third quarter of a 16-13 overtime victory over Kansas City on Nov. 12, suffering a sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib. He's spent time welcoming his son Ben Jr. -- born last Wednesday -- and watching his team lose consecutive games for the first time in three years while managing two offensive touchdowns in 10 quarters of work.The nadir -- Pittsburgh hopes -- came in an eight-turnover, almost comically bad 20-14 loss to Cleveland last Sunday that left the Steelers at 6-5 and heading in the wrong direction as December begins."It's quite amazing that you only lose by six," Tomlin said, "when you provide that type of leg up to the opponent."One the Steelers hope to avoid even if backup Charlie Batch makes his second straight start. Though Roethlisberger appears to be a long shot at best, there's a chance a few familiar faces could be in uniform against the Ravens (9-2), who could wrap up the AFC North title with a win over the Steelers and a Cincinnati Bengals loss.Safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Antonio Brown could both play Sunday. Polamalu has been limited to just five quarters all season due to a right calf injury, though Tomlin said he's "encouraged" by Polamalu's progress.Brown hasn't played since injuring his ankle in a 24-20 win over the New York Giants on Nov. 4, and Pittsburgh's receivers have struggled in his absence. Mike Wallace, a Pro Bowler a year ago, had just one catch against the Browns and couldn't hold onto a pass that turned into one of Batch's three interceptions.Tomlin allowed Wallace is struggling and there's a possible demotion in the works. Wallace has started 41 of Pittsburgh's last 43 games, but the team listed as either Wallace or Emmanuel Sanders as the starter alongside Brown in the depth chart released Tuesday."Mike is frustrated and rightfully so," Tomlin said. "He's not producing like we'd like him to and he'd like to."Neither is the running game, though the Steelers have settled on Jonathan Dwyer as a starter after unsuccessfully rotating Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman the last two weeks.The trio managed just 32 yards on 15 carries -- and three fumbles -- in Cleveland, but the job is Dwyer's to lose based on his steady (by comparison) performance this season. Dwyer has two of Pittsburgh's three 100-yard games this year."We've been working under less than ideal circumstances shuffling those guys due to injury and lack of production," Tomlin said. "But he's healthy and most productive. He will get the bulk of the carries."Even if he'll have to do it behind an offensive line so decimated by injuries that rookie Kelvin Beachum will start at right tackle against the Ravens after Mike Adams went down with a sprained ankle and starter Marcus Gilbert was placed on injured reserve Monday after his bum ankle failed to "perk up" despite nearly two months of treatment.The Steelers activated first-round pick David DeCastro on Monday, but it's unlikely the rookie right guard will be ready to play after just a handful of practices.Not exactly the way the Steelers wanted to start December, though the players are hardly interested in excuses. They know they're not alone in shuffling lineups in search of healthy bodies."You can't count on guys who you don't know if they're going to be there or not," nose tackle Casey Hampton said. "We have a good enough football team to win those types of games and we have to do it."Tomlin remains optimistic Batch can shake off his spotty play against the Browns to lead the Steelers to just their third win in Baltimore in their last 10 trips. There are no plans to go to recently signed Brian Hoyer."Charlie is our quarterback," Tomlin said.Just, the Steelers hope, for not much longer.

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

BOSTON – It took until his 43rd game in the NHL to finally score his first goal with the Bruins, but Rhode Island native Noel Acciari said it made him appreciate it all the more when that moment finally did arrived on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old Acciari finished off a Riley Nash feed on a 3-on-1 odd-man rush that gave the Bruins an insurance goal they badly needed in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Then David Pastrnak hit Acciari with a shaving cream pie to the face during the NESN broadcast as a way to commemorate his teammate’s big scoring moment, and Torey Krug immediately fished the puck out of the net to make certain that Acciari would get it.

So it was the best of both worlds with the team-oriented Acciari, who watched his Bruins win to go right along with his hallmark scoring moment that he’ll remember forever.

“Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it, you know, like I said before I couldn’t have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good,” said Acciari, who has a goal and four points in 24 games this season in Boston. “It just shows you how special it is. It’s not going to come the first game you play; it could come 10, 20, for me probably over 40, but it still feels the same.”

Clearly it’s more about providing a physical, heavy and aggressive opponent when Acciari suits up for the Black and Gold, and it’s less about providing offensive production that’s really a bonus from the fourth line. The focus on throwing hits, aggravating opponents and playing with extra energy have been a big part of Acciari’s game since his return from Providence, and that is absolutely been by design.

“I think I kind of strayed [from my strengths] when I got back from my injury – I kind of strayed away from the hitting game,” said Acciari. “Just getting in on the fore-check and, you know, just kind of getting back to that down in Providence was huge and kind of get my confidence up down there helped out a lot. So when I got the call up I was ready for anything.”

He’s certainly played like he was ready for anything while posting a goal and two points along with a plus-4 in his first four games back for the Bruins organization. Acciari did all of that while leading everybody in Tuesday night’s game with eight registered hits in the win over Nashville. So the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Acciari gave a pretty good example against the Predators of just what he can do with steady ice time and the trust of his teammates as all of the hockey clubs in the East gear up to finish strong for the playoffs.

Now all Acciari has to do is continue to play consistently, punish opposing players and chip in a little offense from time and time as he carves out a permanent role on Boston’s fourth line, and helps his team win a few along the way. 

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Mike Florio joins Quick Slants to discuss the problems of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, and the latest NFL rule changes.