Steelers veteran quarterback Leftwich unfazed by naysayers
Hines Ward caught hundreds of Ben Roethlisberger's passes, and he knows what a difference maker the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback can be.
Byron Leftwich, he said, is no Ben Roethlisberger.
“They've got to have Ben on the field,” Ward, the former Steelers receiver, said on NBC Sports Network. “One thing about him, to be able to extend plays and get outside the pocket, that's when he's at his best. When you lose that element of the game and put Byron in there, a guy who is less mobile, now everybody can just pin back their ears and go with the pass rush and the blitz.”
Asked how far the Steelers will go if Roethlisberger's injury layoff is lengthy, Ward said, “Not very far, not very far at all. He is their whole team.”
Leftwich isn't listening to all the doom-and-gloom chatter in advance of his first Steelers start Sunday night, even that from a former teammate.
“I know they're saying, 'Hey, man, they got a backup quarterback playing Sunday night against the Ravens' and we understand nobody's giving us a shot,” Leftwich said. “That's OK.”
As center Maurkice Pouncey said, “I think we'll do a great job with him. People are making this out to be bigger than it's going to be.”
The Steelers have long believed it was important to get experienced, proven backups behind Roethlisberger, which is why they kept both Leftwich and Charlie Batch.
“Byron is fully capable of running their whole package,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He's a proven veteran quarterback, he's very smart, he's a tough competitor and he's got great arm strength.”
Wide receiver Mike Wallace knows all about that arm strength.
“Probably about 20-25 miles per hour,” Wallace said about the difference between Roethlisberger and Leftwich. “Byron's ball comes out a lot faster. I like Byron's ball. Ben has a nice soft touch on it, you just pluck out of the air and keep rolling. Byron, you definitely got to brace yourself because it's coming.” It's Pittsburgh that's bracing to see how the Steelers do without Roethlisberger.
“He has good, charismatic leadership. He can make all the throws on the field. We expect winning football from him,” coach Mike Tomlin said.
Leftwich got up to game speed by playing all but three snaps of the second half Monday night against Kansas City. Now, it's a matter of running the offense the way the Steelers expect it to be run by making few mistakes, throwing accurate passes and converting on third down.
“It's going to come down to who makes the most plays on Sunday night, regardless of what's said on Wednesdays or what people believe,” Leftwich said.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Duquesne University football player died by suicide
- Steelers not limiting themselves in free agency
- Rossi: Pirates must pay for Mr. Right
- National Weather Service predicts up to 7 inches of snow before Sunday night
- Under Rutherford, it’s been a sizeable shakeup for Penguins
- Coyotes proliferate despite year-round hunting
- Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
- Winnik impresses Penguins in first workout
- Penguins’ Kunitz makes a dream come true
- Big names become available this week via free agency; will Steelers be tempted?
- Arrogant media elites mock Middle America