Despite suffering what he called the worst sprain of his career, kicker Matt Stover said his twisted right ankle is improving. Stover did not practice for the second consecutive day, but remained optimistic that he would play against the AFC North-leading Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Wide receiver Derrick Mason (dislocated left shoulder) and rookie running back Ray Rice (contusion on left shin) also missed practice for the second straight day. Starting left offensive tackle Jared Gaither (right shoulder) was downgraded to no practice after being limited yesterday. Wide receiver Marcus Maxwell (hip) also did not practice.

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Four players who did not practice yesterday – wide receivers Mark Clayton (knee) and Yamon Figurs (bruised left knee) and safeties Jim Leonhard (illness) and Ed Reed (hamstring) – were upgraded. Reed, Clayton and Figurs were limited, while Leonhard fully participated.

Rookie guard David Hale (left ankle) was limited for the second consecutive day.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison (knee) was downgraded from full participation to no practice. Defensive end Brett Keisel (knee) and offensive tackle Marvel Smith (back) also missed practice. Strong safety Troy Polamalu (calf) was upgraded from no practice to limited participation. Wide receiver Hines Ward, running back Willie Parker, defensive end Aaron Smith and cornerback Deshea Townsend practiced after sitting out yesterday for non-injury-related reasons.

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