ShareThis Page

Steelers likely to sign veteran backup QB

| 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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.