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Steelers' Roethlisberger wearing boot but expected to play

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is wearing a protective boot on his sprained right foot but is expected to play Sunday when Pittsburgh and Baltimore face off for first place in the AFC North.

Roethlisberger re-injured the foot during a 19-16 overtime victory in Buffalo last Sunday. He did not leave the game and had an 18-yard run while scrambling after getting hurt.

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Roethlisberger may not practice Wednesday, but coach Mike Tomlin is optimistic the quarterback will play despite some pain and discomfort.

"He might be limited somewhat," Tomlin said Tuesday of Roethlisberger's practice status. "I'm going to be optimistic and hopeful that he'll be a full participant, but there's a chance he couldn't be."

Tomlin said Roethlisberger was not close to coming out of the Buffalo game.

"He was absent from our sideline at the very end of the first half and maybe was late coming back from halftime, but that was simply because we were taking a picture of his foot," Tomlin said. "I was pretty comfortable that he was going to compete and continue throughout the game."

Roethlisberger has missed two of the Steelers' last three games against the Ravens. He had a concussion when the teams played in Baltimore last season, and he sat out the Ravens' 17-14 win in Pittsburgh on Oct. 3 while completing his four-game suspension.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh both have 8-3 records, and the winner will own the division lead with four games remaining.

Steelers defensive end Nick Eason has a sprained left medial collateral ligament he hurt against Buffalo but hasn't been ruled out, although such injuries normally take multiple weeks to heal. Cornerback Bryant McFadden (hamstring) also hasn't been ruled out. Safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles' tendon) might not practice, but is expected to play. He also was held out of most on-field work before the Buffalo game.

Defensive end Brett Keisel (hamstring, calf), who has played only a few snaps in six weeks, is expected to practice. He planned to play last week, only to have the injury flare up the day before the game.

Wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) is likely to play after sitting out against Buffalo. Tight end Matt Spaeth (concussion) will be evaluated Wednesday.

If Roethlisberger has an unexpected setback and can't play, Tomlin said, Byron Leftwich will replace him. Leftwich hasn't played this season.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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