Bryon Leftwich to begin as No. 1 QB
By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, June 11, 2010
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Byron Leftwich will be the Steelers' No. 1 quarterback when training camp opens July 30 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended for at least the first four games. Coach Mike Tomlin stopped just short of naming Leftwich the starter during a news conference Thursday following the Steelers' final offseason practice, a walkthrough at Heinz Field.
"I'm not going to name a No. 1 — no need to," he said. "But I think how we distributed reps is an indication of our mindset at this juncture."
Leftwich took the majority of first-team reps, followed by Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Roethisberger received the first-team reps upon returning to team activities last week.
Wide receiver Hines Ward said it's important for the players to know who their starting quarterback will be entering training camp.
"You do (need to get a rapport), and hopefully by training camp we have a guy that we name," he said. "If not, I'm not going to go up to Coach Tomlin and tell him what he needs to be doing. I'm going to work with all of the guys, but you would like to have that quarterback named so you can get in and see him on a daily basis. That's why we pay Coach all of the money -- to make that decision."
Pouncey in the mix
Tomlin said first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey has made such a good impression that he could be in line to unseat Trai Essex at right guard or Justin Hartwig at center. At the least, he's in the mix to start at right guard, Tomlin said.
"I think that he's proven to be mature beyond his years," he said. "He's been comfortable at guard and center."
Although Pouncey has lined up primarily at right guard, he has filled in at center as Hartwig recovers from a shoulder injury. Asked about the possibility of Pouncey replacing Hartwig, Tomlin replied, "Not out of the question — no."
The Steelers this season are in line to feature seven defensive starters who are at least 30 years old, but Tomlin said he likes the transition being made to insert younger players in the rotation.
"I think we're doing a nice job of infusing young guys to go along with some veteran guys," he said. "That's been ongoing since I've been here, going back to Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley and as recent as Thaddeus Gibson and Jason Worilds, Ziggy Hood, the young corners. We've done a nice job of adding young guys to the mix at virtually every level."
Voluntary work resumes
Some Steelers will be at the team facility next week for weightlifting, conditioning and classroom work.
The offseason program is voluntary, but Tomlin said attendance is encouraged.