Leftwich sees extra time
By Scott Brown
Monday, August 25, 2008
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Only two quarterbacks played in the Steelers' 12-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, but coach Mike Tomlin said that wasn't by design. Tomlin had planned to use rookie Dennis Dixon in the second half. Circumstances, he said, dictated that the Steelers stick with Byron Leftwich in the third and fourth quarters.

"We thought the situations were invaluable that we were getting him in," Tomlin said.

Leftwich, who is backing up Ben Roethlisberger, signed with the Steelers a couple of days after Charlie Batch broke his collarbone Aug. 8. While experienced -- Leftwich has started in the NFL -- the former Jaguar is still playing catch-up when it comes to learning the Steelers' offense. He completed 16-of-23 passes for 129 yards against the Vikings and directed a late drive that led to Jeff Reed's game-winning field goal.

"I thought he delivered the ball to some guys in critical situations," Tomlin said. "Nothing we hadn't seen him do before, but something we hadn't seen him do in a Steeler uniform, so it was good."

* Troy Polamalu knew beforehand that he wasn't going to play against the Vikings. That didn't stop the strong safety from suiting up and taking part in the Steelers' pre-game warm-ups.

"It felt good to put on a uniform and just get out there and take baby steps," said Polamalu, who missed training camp because of a hamstring problem.

Polamalu's last chance to shake off any rust before the start of the regular season comes Thursday. The Steelers play host to the Carolina Panthers in their final preseason game. Whether Polamalu plays in the 7 p.m. game remains to be seen. As for the rest of the first-team defense, outside linebacker James Harrison said the unit doesn't need much work to get ready for the regular season.

"If we only get a series or two in the fourth game, that's fine," Harrison said.

* Third-year wide receiver Willie Reid, who's battling for a roster spot, had a team-high five catches for 55 yards against the Vikings. Included in his grabs was a diving one in the fourth quarter that gave the Steelers a critical first down. When asked if he thought Reid played well against the Vikings, Tomlin said, "He did -- made some plays, and really a lot of guys did."

* After Saturday's game, Tomlin talked about returning to Minnesota. He served as the Vikings' defensive coordinator for one season before becoming the Steelers' head coach. "What we went through together, we're lifelong friends," Tomlin said of the Vikings. "Some things transcend the business, and that's what happens when you commit yourself to something. I've got a lot of love for a lot of guys over there."

* Tomlin lauded the play of punter Paul Ernster against the Vikings. Ernster punted four times for a net average of 48.8 yards. Mitch Berger, who's competing with Ernster for the starting punter job, didn't kick Saturday.

* Lawrence Timmons leads the Steelers with 14 tackles through three preseason games. The second-year linebacker also has a sack.


23:37 Vikings' time of possession in Saturday's game

36:23 Steelers' time of possession in Saturday's game

Scott Brown can be reached at [email="sbrown@tribweb.com"]sbrown@tribweb.com[/email] or 412-481-5432.