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cruzer8
08-25-2010, 11:24 AM
http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/1378 ... ad-offense (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/13783708/steelers-camp-report-leftwich-ready-to-lead-offense)


Steelers camp report: Leftwich ready to lead offense

By Mike Freeman
CBSSports.com National Columnist
Aug. 19, 2010

LATROBE, Pa. -- Practice ends and Byron Leftwich sees a familiar face.

"How does it feel to be in football paradise?" he says.

Leftwich is the lightest he has ever been, the happiest he has ever been, and the most complete man he has ever been. He'll likely start the season as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers some 6 months after he became a father.

Dominic Leftwich waits for his father in a stroller at one end of the practice field. Leftwich joins him and soon a group of Steelers players gather around the Leftwich family. Everyone takes a turn holding Dominic. Dad beams.

"I've been in this league a long time now," the eighth-year player says. "This is the first place where you feel like family. This is where I want to spend the rest of my career. That's what I mean by football paradise. This is football paradise. There is no B.S. here like other places. People tell you the truth here. They don't lie to you. I don't ever want to leave."

And by "other places" Leftwich means the team that drafted him, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who released him in 2006.

"The Jaguars really f----- up that situation," he said. "We had a good group of players and the team let them all go. They let us all go. If they had been more patient, we could've done big things in Jacksonville."

Leftwich steals a deep breath and takes in the scene. Next to him is his son but all around him is his new baby: the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Publicly, the Steelers maintain Dennis Dixon could win the starting quarterback job as the team waits for Ben Roethlisberger to serve his minimum four-game suspension for being a grotesque cad.

Privately is a different matter. The Steelers like Dixon's raw abilities but don't think he's ready to start (Dixon still has major problems picking up the blitz). Barring some sort of dramatic turn, the starting job is Leftwich's to lose.

In effect, the Steelers now belong to Leftwich, who is a castoff from Jacksonville, Atlanta and Tampa Bay yet was always someone who deserved better.

Leftwich might be the player most critical to the Steelers' season. If Leftwich wins the job and can weather a tough season-opening stretch that includes games against Atlanta, Tennessee and Baltimore, the Steelers have a solid chance to make the postseason. If Leftwich implodes, the season could be a terrific struggle.

"My job is to be ready," he said. "I want to win games and it doesn't matter if I play one game or 16 games. I need to be ready."

Yet some of this must feel strange to Leftwich. When he was in Jacksonville, the city became legitimately divided about who should start -- Leftwich or David Garrard.

Now, there is some groundswell among the fan base for Dixon to start in Roethlisberger's absence. The coaching staff hasn't discouraged such thinking either and -- like with Garrard -- the mobility of Dixon is being used as a counter to Leftwich's rooted pocket presence.

But this is a different Leftwich from the one who played in Jacksonville. Leftwich makes better decisions and has more weapons in Pittsburgh than he ever did with the Jaguars.

Maybe for the first time in Leftwich's career, he's in a situation where he has a genuine chance to succeed.

One certainty is that Leftwich has become of the most respected players in the Steelers locker room. The chat with Leftwich is constantly interrupted by teammates simply wanting to say hello to Leftwich and his son.

Whether that translates into wins is another matter but it's a start.

One of the Steelers' assistants comes by. "Great practice," he says, "I see that rocket arm."

Leftwich lifts the arm of his son and says, "He's going to be throwing those out routes soon, coach."

"Yeah man," Leftwich says, "paradise."

Crash
08-25-2010, 11:47 AM
Leftwich is still delusional. What about his flops in Atlanta and Tampa? He never blames himself for anything that has gone wrong in his career.

RuthlessBurgher
08-25-2010, 12:19 PM
Leftwich is still delusional. What about his flops in Atlanta and Tampa? He never blames himself for anything that has gone wrong in his career.

And you never blame Ben for anything that has gone wrong in his career. You're even.

birtikidis
08-25-2010, 12:47 PM
I don't care who the qb was in tampa last year. They were gonna fail. They don't have a single player on that team (from last year) that I'd want. maybe a back up here and there, but that's it.
and atlanta didn't have a good receiver or back when he was there.

Chadman
08-25-2010, 06:11 PM
Leftwich is the sort of QB that, if surrounded with the right sort of talent, can succeed.

In Pittsburgh he is surrounded by good talent. In Tampa Bay, he was asked to carry the team- same in Atlanta to a degree.

In Jacksonville he had Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith & Keenan McCardell- no surprise- he was an effective QB.

He can't carry a team, he's not that sort of QB. But he can be an effective player if given the players that allow him to be part of the machine.

Some will critisize him for this- but the truth is that there are many QB's that are like that- far fewer Ben's out there that can win regardless of who surrounds them.

At this point in his career, if he's happy to be the back-up QB to Ben, Chadman would love to get 5-6 years out of him as the #2.

feltdizz
08-25-2010, 07:16 PM
C'mon lb... Of course this is where he wants to be. No one else was calling for him and he gets a chance to start a few games. I'll believe it when he signs an extension this off season.

If he goes 3-1 or 4-0 I bet the house he bolts after this season. Batch wanted to be a back up. I could see if Lefty signed on early in the off season with a healthy Ben without a suspension.

feltdizz
08-25-2010, 07:32 PM
I don't care who the qb was in tampa last year. They were gonna fail. They don't have a single player on that team (from last year) that I'd want. maybe a back up here and there, but that's it.
and atlanta didn't have a good receiver or back when he was there.

Those who site Tampa aren't talking about wins and losses. They are talking about completing a 10 yard pass with no pressure and a wide open WR and missing him by 5 yards.

Maybe the O was hard for him to pick up.... big arm but his touch over the middle in Tampa was awful.

birtikidis
08-25-2010, 08:18 PM
I don't care who the qb was in tampa last year. They were gonna fail. They don't have a single player on that team (from last year) that I'd want. maybe a back up here and there, but that's it.
and atlanta didn't have a good receiver or back when he was there.

Those who site Tampa aren't talking about wins and losses. They are talking about completing a 10 yard pass with no pressure and a wide open WR and missing him by 5 yards.

Maybe the O was hard for him to pick up.... big arm but his touch over the middle in Tampa was awful.
well the thing about leftwhich is that he never had touch. that's always been my criticism of him. there's a reason though, that they have only decided on one guy so far as to who starts at wide receiver. they were terrible last year. they actually had a write up about their receivers today in the paper. how only one guy is really penciled in to be a starter. I think we're a little spoiled by the guys we've had running routes in pittsburgh the last few years.

Flasteel
08-25-2010, 08:28 PM
The new Charlie Batch? I like it. You have to think that Dennis Dixon is going to want to test his ability as a starter somewhere and won't be around much longer.

Yet another reason to get DD some quality reps while Ben is out. Increase his stock and trade him in the offseason.

proudpittsburgher
08-25-2010, 08:47 PM
C'mon lb... Of course this is where he wants to be. No one else was calling for him and he gets a chance to start a few games. I'll believe it when he signs an extension this off season.

If he goes 3-1 or 4-0 I bet the house he bolts after this season. Batch wanted to be a back up. I could see if Lefty signed on early in the off season with a healthy Ben without a suspension.


I still feel the situation was different for him this year (and next season) than it was when he left for Tampa after the 08 season. He wanted a chance to start, and Tampa gave that to him. I get the feeling that he is content being a backup QB now, and he may be given that opportunity in Pittsburgh. I certainly would feel comfortable as I did with Batch as Ben's backup. But I will say that I am liking Dixon more and more the more I see him.

proudpittsburgher
08-25-2010, 08:48 PM
And either way, it was nice hearing someone say what he said about the organization. We all knew it, but it's nice to hear.