PITTSBURGH – Two years ago, the Steelers were in need of a proven backup quarterback when Charlie Batch went down with injury.
One of those options, Daunte Culpepper recently re-emerged in the news as he just signed to play in the UFL with former NFL coach Dennis Green.
The other Byron Leftwich, who signed and helped the Steelers in their drive to Super Bowl XLIII, now may hold the hopes of a team in his hands, at least until if and when Ben Roethlisberger is ready to step in following his suspension.
Although its no secret Steeler coach Mike Tomlin is high on Dennis Dixon, who has been taking reps with the second team, Lefwich who entered OTA’s slimmer and in the best condition he’s been in years, has taken all the reps with the first unit.
Tomlin says that all his quarterbacks including Charlie Batch will be given an opportunity at some time to run with the first team, but also added the fact he doesn’t want a debacle such as the one Cleveland had last year, when they went through Training Camp unknowing.
“I don’t believe it’s an effective approach to go in with an open quarterback competition, a three-headed quarterback battle,” There simply aren’t enough snaps to go around. We’ll go in with a pecking order and the opportunities to show what you are capable of will be based on that pecking order.”
Roethlisberger is in Pittsburgh and was seen with some of his teammates on Monday at a charity golf outing in Southpointe that raises money for kids. Still his status is unknown as he has yet to be cleared by the league.
“It is important that you work, that’s why we work. How important it is is based on the individual,” Tomlin said of Roethlisberger’s absence. “He is a veteran player; he has been entrenched in this system for quite some time. I would imagine it’s less critical for him than others. Time will tell.”
As for Leftwich, he is a career 79.2 passer with 10,281 yards for his career. During the first two days of camp he has been working with Mike Wallace since Hines Ward has been limited due to a hamstring and also Antwaan Randel El, who is the No. 2 guy for now.
In other OTA news, the Steelers worked out the special teams unit extensively on Wednesday, and surprisingly Rashard Mendenhall was one of those returning kicks.
Ziggy Hood continued to see a lot of action with the first team and Justin Hartwig did not practice. It also appears that Isaac Redman is the third running back behind Mendenhall and Moore for now.