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Ryan Mallett enters starting QB conversation for Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Ryan Mallett hasn't been ruled out as the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens when they face the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Mallett has impressed Ravens officials with his dedication to learn the offense since signing with Baltimore last week, from staying long hours at the team facility to working with quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg and receivers after practice. He is considered the frontrunner to back up Joe Flacco in 2016, even though Jimmy Clausen has started the last two games for Baltimore.

"We’ll see where it goes this week," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "Obviously, the clock is ticking. If we want to see him this year, we’re going to have to put him out pretty quick, but that’s a matter of whether he’s ready to play. We also want to do justice to our chances to win the game too."

If Mallett doesn't play Sunday against the Steelers, he'll likely have a shot at starting at the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season finale. It would only make sense that the Ravens will want to see Mallett on the field after giving him a deal that could pay him as much as $2.5 million in 2016.

Mallett hasn't started a game since he was with the Houston Texans on Oct. 8, when he left after taking a shot to the ribs and never returned. He was 1-3 as a starer this season with three touchdowns and four interceptions for a 63.6 passer rating.

Clausen has done an admirable job stepping into the Ravens' starting role after Matt Schaub was injured. He has set career highs in passing yards in his first two starts even though he was claimed off waivers less than a month ago (Nov. 24) and still is relatively unfamiliar with his receivers.

The Ravens could bring back Clausen to compete against Mallett for the backup quarterback job next season based on what he's done in a brief period.

As for who is starting at quarterback Sunday, Harbaugh was noncommittal.

"I just don’t want to put any parameters on it right now," Harbaugh said. "It’s a unique situation right now that we’re in, obviously. It’s different than normal. We’ll see how it plays out. [We are] probably not going to say anything. We’ll see who the guy is. I don’t know who the guy is going to be right now at this stage."