No decision on Steelers' starting QB yet
By Mark Kaboly, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, September 4, 2010
[url="http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_697908.html"]http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 97908.html[/url]
Now that Byron Leftwich is injured and likely out two to four games, and Ben Roethlisberger's suspension has been cut to four games, Dennis Dixon appears to be in line to start the season at quarterback for the Steelers.
But the team has yet to make that official, and it could opt for veteran Charlie Batch instead.
Leftwich, who took the most preseason snaps with the first team and was the presumed starter during Roethlisberger's absence, suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee during the second quarter of Thursday's final preseason game. Leftwich was at the team facility Friday, walking with a limp but without crutches.
"I feel for Byron because he worked so hard to get to this point," Batch said. "That's the way this thing goes sometimes."
Leftwich was injured when reserve tackle Jonathan Scott accidentally leg-whipped him while trying to make a block. Leftwich made it back to the huddle and was ready to call the next play before he went to one knee and summoned the training staff.
"That's what (stinks) about the preseason," safety Troy Polamalu said. "You don't want to go in with one of your major vets going down. I don't want to say (the preseason is) meaningless. But, in a lot of ways, it is meaningless."
The injury was anything but meaningless. All indications point to Dixon getting only his second career start when the Steelers open the season Sept. 12 against Atlanta.
"It's an opportunity, I guess," said Dixon, 25, a third-year pro and the least experienced of the Steelers' quarterbacks. "It's unfortunate for Byron, but this team has to continue to look forward."
During the preseason, Dixon threw for 327 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while completing nearly 72 percent of his attempts. He also ran for 91 yards and was sacked three times.
Dixon, though, hasn't had much work with the starting offense. His only first-team snaps in the preseason came Sunday against Denver, when he completed 9 of 16 passes for 94 yards and two interceptions, including one in the end zone.
On Thursday, Dixon threw a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders on his only attempt. Dixon said he had "no idea" whether he'll start against the Falcons.
"I'm just worried about practice come Monday," he said. "Whoever's taking the helm, I know they'll be able to take control of the game."
That could be Batch, even though he appeared to be little more than an afterthought much of the past month. Batch put himself back in the mix with a solid performance against the Broncos, completing 3 of 4 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. His only incompletion was when Sanders ran the wrong route, resulting in an interception.
Despite playing more than two quarters Thursday, Batch attempted only four passes. For preseason, he was 7 of 10 for 64 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
"This wasn't the first time I was faced with making this roster," Batch said. "Back in 2005, it was the same way. Against Carolina, I had to go out and finish a preseason game and had about 2 1/2 quarters of work to prove that I belong on this team, and here we are five years later."
Batch hasn't played much in those five years, starting four games and going 3-1.
"I have confidence in whoever it is — Dennis or Charlie," Roethlisberger said. "Both of them are great quarterbacks."
Added Batch: "Either way, I will be ready."