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Steelers likely to sign veteran backup QB

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By Scott Brown
Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008

Daunte Culpepper or Byron Leftwich could be the new backup quarterback for the Steelers, who became vulnerable at the position Friday night when Charlie Batch was injured.

Batch, who suffered a broken right collarbone in Friday's 16-10 exhibition victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, is expected to be out four to six weeks, according to coach Mike Tomlin.

That leaves just two rookies -- fifth-round pick Dennis Dixon and undrafted free agent Mike Potts -- behind starter Ben Roethlisberger, who was sacked 93 times the past two years and takes more hits than almost any passer in the NFL.

Roethlisberger's swashbuckling style of play makes him more susceptible to the kind of hit that could sideline him -- and level the Steelers' season if they don't find a capable short-term replacement for Batch.

"Charlie Batch is kind of the rock for this team," right tackle Willie Colon said. "He helps Ben out a lot. He's been a leader for us. It's going to be a major blow."

To help soften the blow, the Steelers are expected to bring in a quarterback who can bridge them from now until Batch is healthy enough to return. And the two players who make the most sense in that department are Culpepper and Leftwich.

Each quarterback has had success in the NFL -- Culpepper is a three-time Pro Bowler -- and each is trying to get back into the league.

Leftwich is no stranger to the Steelers. The former Jaguars QB started three games against the Steelers from 2004-2006 and went 2-1.

The Jaguars released Leftwich right before the start of last season, and he played three games for Atlanta in 2007.

Culpepper played seven games for the Raiders last season. He had been an All-Pro quarterback in Minnesota, but he has not been the same since seriously injuring his knee in 2005.

He and Leftwich have made more than 100 starts in the NFL between them. Dixon and Potts have yet to take a snap in an NFL regular-season game.

Tomlin made it clear after the game that the Steelers aren't ready to put Dixon into a position where he has to start, especially since he is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL.

That is why Saturday, which was an off day for the players, provided anything but down time for Tomlin and director of football operations Kevin Colbert.

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