The Steelers could play their Thursday night game against the Ravens without three of their top seven players along the defensive line and linebacker corps.
The latest to go down was nose tackle Steve McLendon, who sprained an ankle against the Browns in the 27-11 victory Sunday. He has already been ruled out for the Ravens game.
Defensive end Brett Keisel and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley have missed the past two games and could miss a third consecutive game because of the short week.
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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Keisel, Woodley and reserve safety Shamarko Thomas will be watched closely in practice Tuesday to determine if they’ll be able to play Thursday.
Curtis Brown, a reserve defensive back and special teams contributor, will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Tomlin also said reserve linebacker Stevenson Sylvester is not likely to play Thursday.
Al Woods, who filled in for McLendon against the Browns, is a candidate to get his first career start against the Ravens, but Tomlin said Ziggy Hood could be in the mix as well if Keisel is able to play.
“I thought he was a positive contributor to our efforts,” Tomlin said of Woods. “Al has played just about every football game. Hopefully he’ll be ready for the extended action. He’s an obvious potential selection.”
Another option is Hebron Fangupo, the only natural nose tackle on the roster who played four snaps against the Browns.
The Steelers and Ravens will play a game that has significant playoff implications in the AFC. Both teams are 5-6 and are tied with four other teams for the sixth and final playoff berth from the conference. The Steelers and Ravens are two games behind the Bengals in the AFC North.
Ray Fittipaldo: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rayfitt1.