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Steelers bring back quarterback Batch for another season

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By Scott Brown
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Steelers addressed the lack of experience behind Ben Roethlisberger on Monday when they re-signed veteran backup Charlie Batch.

Batch agreed to a one-year contract that would keep him with the Steelers for an 11th season and ninth as a trusted backup to Roethlisberger. The Steelers are 5-2 in games Batch has started, and the Homestead native led them to a 27-0 win over the St. Louis Rams last December.

Playing in place of the injured Roethlisberger, Batch threw for 208 yards and completed 68 percent of his pass attempts.

Batch, who has been with the Steelers since 2002, is 37 and has played 14 NFL seasons.

He joins Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson — both signed contracts in January — as the other quarterbacks behind Roethlisberger on the Steelers' depth chart. The Steelers also could re-sign Byron Leftwich, who has been in line to be the No. 2 quarterback the past two years, only to get hurt.

Leftwich, an unrestricted free agent, broke his left arm in a 34-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons in an Aug. 27
preseason game, and the Steelers put him on injured reserve.

General manager Kevin Colbert has said the Steelers would like to re-sign Leftwich and Batch, though the team is unlikely to take more than four quarterbacks to training camp.

Prospects visit Steelers

The Steelers hosted four draft prospects Monday, including Clemson defensive end Andre Branch and Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green.

Branch, who will move to outside linebacker if he is drafted by a team that uses a 3-4 defense, and Green are widely considered among the best at their respective positions. The 6-foot-4, 259-pound Branch recorded 10 12 sacks and 17 tackles for losses last season, while the 6-6, 238-pound Green caught 51 passes for 606 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011.

The Steelers also met with Michigan State wide receiver Keshawn Martin and Cincinnati defensive tackle John Hughes.

The 6-foot, 188-pound Martin caught 66 passes for 777 yards and four touchdowns last season. The 6-3, 309-pound Hughes had five sacks and 12 12 tackles for losses in 2011, Teams are allowed to host 30 out-of-area prospects in advance of the draft. Wednesday is the last day teams are permitted to have in-house visits from draft prospects.

Back to work

Running backs coach Kirby Wilson returned to work, a little more than three months after suffering life-threatening injuries in a fire at his Seven Fields townhouse.

Wilson was severely burned in a Jan. 6 fire and suffered smoke inhalation from the blaze. The veteran coach has made remarkable progress, and he took another significant step Monday.

The Steelers also welcomed back players as offseason workouts started at their South Side practice facility.

Players are only allowed to lift weights under team supervision, and official offseason practices don't start until next month.

Center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive end Brett Keisel, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and cornerback Keenan Lewis were among those who worked out at team headquarters.

Extra points

The Steelers are unveiling throwback jerseys they will wear in 2012, their 80th season, Tuesday at a 4:30 p.m. news conference at Heinz Field. ... The NFL will announce its complete schedule for the 2012 season during a three-hour show that will air on NFL Network. The league had previously released teams' opponents for next season but without times or dates of the games.

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