PITTSBURGH -- It should be bad enough that the revamped Ravens offensive line isn't getting much respect in Baltimore.
According to Bruce Gradkowski, the Ravens' new center, his brother Gino Gradkowski, isn't getting much respect at home, either.
"The Steelers," said Bruce Gradkowski when asked whether his Pittsburgh-based family would cheer for the Steelers or his brother's Ravens.
"I mean, they have to," Gradkowski explained. "Parents got to root for both sides, but all my cousins, sisters, my wife, they'll be wearing that black and gold. They're true fans back here."
Bruce, of course, is the Steelers' back-up quarterback.
Gino, almost five years younger, is in his second year with the Ravens. He replaced the retired Matt Birk as their starting center this year.
"Gino was in a great situation in Baltimore last year being able to play behind a true pro like Matt Birk, a good, good center who's smart and knows how to play the game," Bruce said. "My brother being able to learn from him was pretty cool, and then stepping in this year and starting, I'm proud of him. That's a huge accomplishment. To be in the NFL and to be a starter in this league is tough, so I'm proud of him for that. And it's exciting. This rivalry is enough with Baltimore and Pittsburgh
and now it brings a little something extra special with Gino on the other side. We have to get this one."
Gino Gradkowski is one of two new starters on a Ravens line that has only one player -- right guard Marshal Yanda -- back at his old spot.
Since the Ravens last played the Steelers, the Ravens have replaced Birk at center with Gradkowski, moved LT Michael Oher to RT, and moved RT Kelechi Osemele to LG.
So far, it's added up to a struggling offense. The Ravens rank 22nd in the league in total offense, 27th in rushing and 18th in points. The Ravens actually average less than the Steelers -- 2.7 compared to the Steelers' 3.1 -- in average yards per carry,
and have given up just as many sacks.
Yet, until the Steelers prove otherwise, Gino can lord over Bruce, who has yet to win a Super Bowl ring.
"That's something he could always fall back on, 'Well I have a Super Bowl ring,'" Bruce said. "But, nah, I was proud of him. That's a huge accomplishment, especially going into my eighth year and realizing just how hard it is to win in this league. For him to do it his first year is pretty awesome, but no holds barred this weekend. The older brother needs to take this match for sure."
SPENCE TAKES ANOTHER STEP
Sean Spence, the 2012 third-round pick who tore knee ligaments and suffered damage to the peroneal nerve that preseason, participated in his first practice Wednesday since suffering the injury.
The Steelers activated Spence from the PUP list to take a look at his progress. They'll watch him work on the scout team and have three weeks to decide whether to activate him, put him on injured reserve, or release him.
Spence realizes he most likely will be placed on injured reserve, so he's not getting his hopes too high about playing this season.
"I'm definitely hoping, but I'm not going to guarantee anything," he said. "I'm going to keep working at it and see how it goes."
The Steelers signed former Fresno State wide receiver/return specialist Devon Wylie (5-9, 187) to their practice squad today.
Wylie was an injury-plagued but explosive college player who ran a 4.39 40 at the combine with a vertical jump of 39 inches. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012, made the roster, played in 6 games, and
caught 6 passes for 56 yards. He was released this past Sept. 1, signed with the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 25, and released Oct. 9.
At Fresno State, Wylie caught 98 passes for 1,327 yards and 8 touchdowns. He averaged 13.5 yards per punt return, 15.4 as a senior.
Rookie WR Markus Wheaton has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a broken pinky finger. Also missing practice for the Steelers on Wednesday was OLB Jarvis Jones with a head injury. Limited were: RT Marcus Gilbert (quad), DE Brett Keisel (abdomen), TE Heath Miller (rest), and OLB LaMarr Woodley (knee).
Missing practice for the Ravens were: starting LB Josh Bynes (thigh, finger) and DE Chris Canty (thigh), and reserve LB Albert McLellan (shoulder). Limited were: CB Chykie Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), C Ryan Jensen (foot), DT Haloti Ngata (elbow), LB Courtney Upshaw (foot), and CB Lardarius Webb (thigh).