OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Before they draw up a game plan for Sunday night's showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens must determine the availability of three injured starters: fullback Le'Ron McClain, left tackle Michael Oher and strong safety Dawan Landry.
All three were hurt in Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. McClain sprained his left ankle while blocking on a kickoff, Oher sprained his right knee and Landry received a concussion while tackling running back Cadillac Williams.
"We'll take a look at them and see how they respond over the next few days and see where we're at," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "That's all you're getting."
McClain's injury appeared to be the most serious. He had to be helped off the field in the second quarter and was hobbling around the locker room in a walking boot after the game.
Not only is McClain a valuable blocker, but his bruising running style has proven to be effective against the physical Steelers. In seven career games, the 6-foot, 260-pound McClain has carried 53 times for 207 yards and caught eight passes for 56 yards.
"It's day to day," McClain said after Baltimore's 17-10 win over Tampa Bay. "You'll see me in treatment 24-7. I got to play Sunday. I got to play against Pittsburgh. That's the only thing I'm thinking about."
After McClain left, rookie tight end Dennis Pitta took over as a blocking back and H-back. Harbaugh will explore further options until he knows for certain if McClain can play.
"When you've got a week to prepare for that possibility, we'll have more things up this week," the coach said.
Oher's injury occurred in the third quarter. The Ravens initially thought the 313-pound tackle would be able to return to action, but trainer Bill Tessendorf decided against it.
"It was medical. They came back and told us he wasn't going to be up the rest of the game," Harbaugh said. "That was the same with Dawan Landry."
Oher said after the game, "It definitely could have been worse. I should be good" for Pittsburgh.
Oher was replaced by Oniel Cousins, who did OK under the circumstances.
"He was physical -- especially in the run game. He held up pretty well in pass protection, too," Harbaugh said.
But the Ravens didn't score in the second half and could really use McClain and Oher against the Steelers.
"Having Le'Ron down takes away some our personnel groups and our formations that we are used to running," tight end Todd Heap said. "It's tough without a fullback in our offense, but Michael is a huge part of our offensive line. We missed him in the second half."
Landry remained on the ground for several seconds after his collision with Williams. He was replaced by Haruki Nakamura in the defensive backfield.
"When I initially got hit, I don't remember hitting the guy," said Landry, who complained of a headache after the game. "I was laying on the ground. I was kind of woozy."
The status of those three players, as well as guard Chris Chester (skin infection), is uncertain. The importance of this game, however, is quite clear.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh are tied for first place in the AFC North. Both are very much in the running for a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Not to mention the fact that the Ravens and Steelers are bitter rivals.
"The stakes go up every single week, this week more than ever," Harbaugh said. "Whoever wins this game does take control of the division. The other team will have to catch up with them in some form or fashion. It gives you an opportunity to do some things in the playoffs. We understand all that. We know how big a game this is."