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fordfixer
05-01-2010, 03:05 AM
Steelers Minicamp: Steelers' QBs begin period of adjustments
Saturday, May 01, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10121/1054794-66.stm

It was a play seen often last training camp with the Steelers. Receiver Mike Wallace flashed deep, and the quarterback's pass fell short of the mark.

It took time for Ben Roethlisberger to adjust to the exceptional speed of Wallace last summer, and now it is another quarterback's turn.

"That once I underthrew him," Byron Leftwich acknowledged, "but that won't happen again, trust me."

Leftwich, re-acquired by the Steelers in a trade with Tampa Bay before the draft, spent Friday trying to get his timing down with his receivers and getting reacquainted with coordinator Bruce Arians' offense.

He will compete with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch for the job of starting quarterback for at least the first four games of the 2010 season. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger the first four to six games. Leftwich backed up Roethlisberger during the 2008 season after Batch went on injured reserve, and then signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent last year.

"I guess we're just going to all work our butts off and best guy wins," Leftwich said. "Right now, it's so far away from when that decision has to be made. Right now, I'm just getting caught up with these guys."

Friday, the rotation began in both practices with Leftwich, then Dixon and then Batch, and while Leftwich said it is way too early to read anything into that, Dixon said he believes that rotation will continue.

"I don't expect it to change, but, if it does, we're ready for anything that comes our way as far as QBs," Dixon said.

Leftwich has been gone from the Steelers for one year after backing up Roethlisberger in 2008, but there has been a nearly complete turnover in their receiving corps since then. The only familiar face for him is Hines Ward. Wallace was a rookie last season, Antwaan Randle El is back after leaving in 2006, Arnaz Battle is another new veteran and Emmanuel Sanders is a rookie. Limas Sweed played little as a rookie in 2008.

"I haven't been throwing to these guys," Leftwich said. "That's the whole thing playing quarterback, understanding who you're throwing to and how you're going to throw the ball to certain people. That's the process I'm going through now."

Whoever starts will have to build a rapport with Wallace, running in Santonio Holmes' old split-end position, set to become a starter after he led the NFL with an average of 19.4 yards on 39 receptions as a rookie.

"I've seen enough film to know how fast he is," Leftwich said. "I've seen film of him and I've seen what he's done on Sundays, so I was prepared for that, I was prepared for the speed he has. It's a great thing to have as a quarterback."

Leftwich said he felt nervous after rejoining the Steelers because minicamp was not far off, but it did not take long for him to relax in a familiar atmosphere.

"Some things are different since I left, but, as a whole, I have a grasp of the offense. I understand where everybody's going to be, the protections and everything."



NOTES -- Coach Mike Tomlin wasted little time in re-installing Bryant McFadden as his starting left cornerback. McFadden started there before he left as a free agent last year to sign with Arizona. The Steelers reacquired him from the Cardinals in a trade Saturday. ... Besides Roethlisberger, three-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison was the only other absent player, excused to attend his uncle's funeral in Akron, Ohio. ... The Steelers removed undrafted rookie A.J. Trump, a center-guard from the University of Miami, from their roster after he failed their physical. ... Starting center Justin Hartwig went through limited practices after having off-season shoulder surgery. ... Ward took the afternoon off after what Tomlin said was a slight hamstring problem.


For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at http://www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com.


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