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Ray Rice to Snap Start Streak, Miller Returns for the Steelers

NFL’s Week 2 included a number of injuries and one at the top of the conversation was the Baltimore Ravens (1-1) running back Ray Rice. Last week he suffered a left hip flexor strain against the Cleveland Browns and missed this week’s practices. For the diminutive player, he has a 43-game starting streak for the regular season–the longest one for active league running backs–but this will come to an end on Sunday.

Ray Rice

Ray Rice

The Ravens have listed Rice as doubtful and he could be out for two weeks. Fellow back Bernard Pierce will likely start on Sunday against the Houston Texans, reported the Baltimore Sun. This will be Pierce’s first career start. The sophomore player has 28 carries for 79 rushing yards and one touchdown from this year’s first two games.

Pierce said of the opportunity, “No nervousness. I’m just anxious. It’s just another game. You can’t really get hyped up and think it’s more than that. It’s just another game that we have to play.”

Shaun Draughn will back up Pierce.

In other Ravens injury news, the following players have been listed as doubtful: rookie reserve linebacker Arthur Brown (pectoral strain) starting defensive end Chris Canty (groin), wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) and defensive tackle Brandon Williams (toe).

For Week 3, the Ravens will host the Houston Texans (2-0), whose wins have come from second-half comebacks. Lucky for them, wide receiver Andre Johnson has received full clearance for the game and could help with their win (-1.5, 45 o/u).

Steelers TE Miller Set to Return

After practicing all week with his team, Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) tight end Heath Miller will play in his first game of the 2013 season against the Chicago Bears (2-0) on Sunday night. He has been recovering from last December’s surgery to repair knee ligaments.

Heath Miller

Heath Miller

He said on Friday after the team’s practice via ESPN, “I’m close to the end now. It’s been a long time sitting and watching.”

His return will give the winless Steelers a much-needed boost as Miller is considered one of the league’s best tight ends. In 2012, his team voted him MVP. Earlier in the week, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin  tried to temper expectations of the player’s return, saying that the team can’t expect Miller “to step out of a phone booth with a cape on.”

Last season, Miller had 71 receptions for a career-high 816 yards before his season ended in the team’s 15th game.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell (foot) also had hopes of returning to the field this week but has been listed as questionable. Media pundits have him as a no to play on Sunday. This will leave the team with running backs Felix Jones, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman to pick up the slack for the team’s almost nonexistent run game.

In other injury news, Steelers starting cornerback Cortez Allen will again be out for a second straight week thanks to a sprained ankle.

For the Steelers, they’re looking for their first win of the season. From their two games to date, they have only rushed for 75 yards and scored 19 points. They’ll go up against a 2-0 Chicago team that hasn’t played on Heinz Field since 2005.

Fortunately for the home team, the Bears have lost two consecutive games there. But the visitors have an improved offense and a very slight advantage for the win (-1.5, 40.5 o/u).

Other AFC North Games…

On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns , the division’s other 0-2 team, will play the Minnesota Vikings (0-2). Both teams are desperate for a win and for the Browns, they’re playing under a third string quarterback and a new but veteran running back.

Things happen in threes: Vikings get the win (-7, 40 o/u).

And the final division game has the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) against the Green Bay Packers (1-1). Packers are the winners (-2.5, 49.5 o/u).





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