Mike Tomlin may be a very different coach than Bill Cowher, but there is one trait both men share: A belief in veteran back ups quarterbacks.
With Charlie Batch out 4-6 weeks due to a broken collarbone, the Steelers wasted little time choosing Byron Leftwich over Dante Culpepper to bridge the gap until Batch’s return.
This is a smart move. There’s no substitute for having and experienced man under center when your starting QB goes down.
Leftwich’s signing, along with the team’s apparent intent on not putting Batch on the injured reserve sets up an interesting roster quandary. Fifth round pick Dennis Dixon fairly well by all accounts on Friday night in relief of Batch, and the team is hoping to groom him as Ben Roethlisberger’s under study.
Batch’s injury might complicate those plans, because keeping all four men would require carrying four quarterbacks on the active roster. Waiving Dixon and putting him on the practice squad is a risky proposition – He’s a fifth round pick, but would have gone much higher were it not for a torn ACL.
There is a precedent for carrying four quarterbacks. The team did it in 1995, when they had Neil O’Donnel, Mike Tomzack, Jim Miller, and Kordell Stewart on their active roster. They did it again in 1999 when Kordell Stewart, Mike Tomzack, Pete Gonzales, and Anthony Wright were all on Pittsburgh’s 53 man roster.
Carrying four quarterbacks is considered to be quite unorthodox, but Cowher was ready to flaunt conventional wisdom twice. It will be interesting to see if Tomlin is willing to follow suit.