Steelers bring back quarterback Batch

| Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Steelers bolstered their depth at quarterback Friday by re-signing Charlie Batch to a two-year contract.

The Steelers now have three quarterbacks on their roster, though starter Ben Roethlisberger is under investigation following an accusation of sexual assault at a nightclub in Milledgeville, Ga. Even if no charges are filed in connection with the March 5 incident, Roethlisberger could be punished for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he plans to meet with Roethlisberger at an undisclosed date.

Batch, who at 35 is entering his 13th NFL season, has proved to be a reliable backup, though he has battled injuries the past two seasons. He missed the last six games of 2009 after breaking a bone in his left wrist in a 27-24 loss at Kansas City. A broken collarbone suffered during an exhibition game sidelined Batch for the entire 2008 season.

The Homestead native likely will battle third-year man Dennis Dixon for the No. 2 job. With Roethlisberger and Batch out for a Nov. 29 game at Baltimore, Dixon made his first NFL start and almost led the Steelers to victory. His 24-yard touchdown run with less than 6 12 minutes left gave the Steelers a 17-14 lead. The Ravens, however, tied the score and then won in overtime on a field goal set up by a Dixon interception.

The Steelers are high on Dixon, a fifth-round draft choice in 2008. Coach Mike Tomlin hinted this week that the dual-threat quarterback might have the inside track for the No. 2 job.

"He's a young guy who took a nice step between year one and year two," Tomlin said. "If he continues on that path, I see no reason why he shouldn't (be the backup). I'm not going to assume anything."

Batch brings a measure of comfort to the Steelers; the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder has played well when called upon. He threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins in the 2006 season opener. He threw for 195 yards and two scores later in the season at Atlanta after Roethlisberger was knocked from the game with a concussion.

Batch signed with the Steelers in 2002 after the Detroit Lions released him. A former first-round pick who started 46 games for Detroit from 1998-2001, Batch has been one of the Steelers' most active players in the community. The Steel Valley High graduate is also the players' union representative for the team.

The Steelers had been expected to bring Batch back even before the latest allegations against Roethlisberger surfaced. The team has said it is waiting until the investigation in Milledgeville runs its course before making any decisions related to Roethlisberger, who is scheduled to report to the team for workouts Monday.

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