Two Bills Starters Highlight Steelers Personal Mishaps

Ike Taylor left the Patriots game with a concussion. The Steelers, having doubts about his availability for today’s game vs. the Bills, did what they have done all year long:

  • They signed someone they’d cut previously and cut Isaiah Green

In this case that was DeMarcus Van Dyke. To be fair to management, unlike Stevenson Sylvester and Jonathan Dwyer, Van Dyke was waived-injured, so his is not a case of bi-polar disorder infecting Steelers personnel decisions.

But the fact that the Steelers are facing the Buffalo Bills adds irony to Pittsburgh’s latest spin of the personnel merry-go-round. And news that broke late Friday night – that offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams were listed as questionable for the game – only deepened the irony.

That’s because like Arizona before the, the Buffalo Bills have become sort of Pittsburgh Northeast. Look at the Bills roster and practice squad and you’ll see Steelers castoffs like Frank “The Tank”Summers, Corbin Bryant, and Dennis Dixon. But those men are just role players. The Bills have two men starter at a position area where the Steelers need the most help (from a health stand point):  Offensive line.

Urbik of course is not well known to Steelers fans, coming to Pittsburgh in 2009 Draft as one of the team’s 3rd round draft picks. Urbik didn’t play or dress in 2009. Urbik had and “under the radar” training camp in 2010 and seemingly had secured himself a roster spot, having rose above Justin Hartwig on the depth chart at center.

But then Byron Leftwich injured his leg in preseason, and the Steelers needed to carry Charlie Batch, in addition to Dixon, on their depth chart (’10 was the year of Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension.)

  • Someone had to go, and that was Urbik, whom the Steelers thought they could sneak on to the practice squad. Alas, Bills General Manager, Doug Whaley, snatched him up.

Legursky’s story with the Steelers is more well known, having established himself as one of Kevin Colbert’s undrafted rookie free agent steals.

Legursky went on to start 13 games at center or guard over three years, including Super Bowl XLV. He even did spot duty at fullback. Yet in spite of that versatility and despite no established depth at center (remember, Kelvin Beachum vs. Tennessee?), the Steelers let Legursky go to Buffalo with only a whimper (pun intended, Guy Whimper). Not only was Legursky lightly regarded by Steelers management, the Steelers press corps. didn’t even bother to note his departure.

To be fair, the Urbik and Legursky play guard, and tackle is the area where Pittsburgh needs help at this weekend and has needed help at all year long. But the fact is that more quality offensive lineman, especially versatile ones, give a team extra agility to manage injury situations.

  • The Steelers don’t have that now, in part because the Bills saw something in their personnel cast offs that Steelers management missed.

Remember that today as Mario Williams is tossing Roethlisberger around like a rag doll.

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Landry Jones Arrival in Pittsburgh All But Signals Charlie Batch’s Exist

The Steelers surprised (and displeased) the pundits by drafting quarterback Landry Jones in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft.

Beyond the surprise behind the Steelers using a 4th round pick on a quarterback, Landry Jones arrival likely means something else:  Charlie Batch’s days as a Pittsburgh Steeler are over.

The Steelers have already signed Bruce Gradkowski to a two year contract and, while they were expected to take a quarterback in the draft, they had also held out the possibility that Charlie Batch might return to back up Ben Roethlisberger for a final season.

  • Bruce Gradkowski’s not going anywhere, and the Steelers have shown more patience with drafted quarterbacks.

Since arriving in 2000, Kevin Colbert has drafted Tee Martin in 2000, Brian St. Pierre in 2003, Omar Jacobs in 2006, and Dennis Dixon in 2008. Of those four 5th round picks, only Omar Jacobs got cut in training camp.

Given that Landry Jones was a 4th round pick, his lease on an roster spot has got to be considerably longer, than his predecessors who arrived in Latrobe as 5th rounders. (Although during Kevin Colbert’s tenure the Steelers have cut 4th round picks, namely wide receiver Danny Farmer in 2000 and wide Fred Gibson in 2005.)

Although many things can change, heavens know the Steelers have had their share of training camp quarterback injuries, the odds have greatly increased that Charlie Batch has played his final game for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

No official word on Charlie Batch’s status has been released by the Steelers, although in his post-draft press conference Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner all but acknowledged that Batch’s days were done:

We have had great experience in that room with Charlie and Byron. I just think it was time to start grooming a new player, freshen up the room if you will.

For his own part, Batch at least appeared to be trying to forestall the inevitable, tweeting:

Don’t throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds waterSwedish proverb
— Charlie Batch (@CharlieBatch16) April 28, 2013

However, in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook, Batch seemed to accept that the end was at hand, as he told Cook who observed:

But Batch won’t survive the drafting of Jones. He said he’s not bitter but rather thankful to the Rooneys and to general manager Kevin Colbert for giving him a chance “to live out my dream … I’m the only guy born and raised in Pittsburgh who played for the Steelers and won two Super Bowls.”

Charlie Batch truly is a home town boy who made good. While he speculated that the Steelers were intent on grooming Landry Jones as Roethlisberger’s replacement, he affirmed that he’ll stay in Pittsburgh dedicated to his foundation. (Batch’s prediction about Landry being selected to replace Ben has been discounted)

Indeed, Batch went so far as to tell Cook, “I want to be remembered more for what I’m doing off the field than what I did on it.”

  • What better statement of a man’s character is there?

The truth is that Batch accomplished both a lot on and off the field in Pittsburgh.

No official word has come out that Batch’s days as a Pittsburgh Steelers are over, but when that word does arrive, Steel Curtain Rising will give his legacy its appropriate adieu.

Until then, we’ll simply say, on behalf of Steelers Nation, “Thank you Charlie, for a job well done.”

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Steelers 2008 Draft Class Now Officially a Wash

There’s a peculiarity in the methodology of those who do “serious” NFL Draft evaluation and it lies in basing a drafting organization’s grade on whether or not the player is still in the NFL as opposed to still with the drafting organization.

  • By that measure, the Steelers performance in the 2008 NFL Draft could still grade out well – not that anyone in Pittsburgh will benefit

The “Serious” qualification is necessary, because NFL Draft Evaluation is plagued by day after “who won and who lost” draft analysis that generates page views and sparks discussion but is ultimately meaningless.

Not 48 hours had passed since the end of the 2008 draft and the so-called experts were praising the Steelers for claiming Rashard Mendenhall and Limas Sweed, two of the supposed “steals” from the 2008. Beyond that the Steelers had added needed depth at linebacker, offensive line and perhaps had netted themselves a long-term back up quarterback.

Steelers Nation has had painful reminders in just how far target the instant analysis of the 2008 draft fell. The 2013 season promises to offer an equally clarifying less on more serious analysis.

Maturing of a Draft Class

Serious NFL draft evaluation can only begin 3 years after a draft and ultimately should extend further. Yes first round picks should contribute or at least “show something” in their first year. Other draft picks should carve out back up slots and/or contribute on special teams.

But developing talent and working it into your system takes time.

Kevin Colbert’s best NFL draft came in 2002. In the class 2002’s third season the Steelers won 15 games and in their fourth NFL season the Steelers won Super Bowl XL.

  • That’s no coincidence. 

True, Kendall Simmons started right away, Antwaan Randle El blossomed as a third receiver and kick returner, while Larry Foote started a few games for Kendrell Bell.

But the full impact of the Steelers 2002 Draft Class wasn’t felt until those players fully matured with El taking on a starting role, Foote and Chris Hope becoming full time starters, Verron Hayes showing himself to be capable reserve running back, and even Lee Mays showing himself to be a serviceable practice squad/53rd man on the roster who can make a couple of catches when you need them.

  • Brett Keisel’s case shows why the evaluation window must be extended, as he did not break the starting lineup until 2006 but has been a fixture ever since.

Given that example, the Steelers 2008 Draft Class should be peaking into their primes, to the Black and Gold’s Benefit…

No Player for the 2008 Draft Remains with the Steelers

…Those still playing from the Steelers 2008 Draft Class might in fact be peaking into their primes in 2013, but unfortunately none of them will be doing it for Pittsburgh.

  • Linebacker Mike Humpal, the Steelers 2008 6th round pick never saw an NFL roster, so “Life’s Work” began for him at a young age.
  • Limas Sweed of course is famous for dropping sure touchdowns in the playoffs vs. San Diego and Baltimore and then tearing his ACL during the 2010 off season. He’s been out of football since.

Legend holds that during summer 2008 at Latrobe Mike Tomlin matched Bruce Davis one-on-one vs. Tony Hills with the challenge that he was “going to make a player out of one of you.”  Davis, the Steelers 3rd round pick from 2008 was a total bust and out of the NFL by then end of ’09.

Tony Hills presents a more curious case. Jim Wexell once compared the Steelers 2008 4th round pick to John Jackson. But while Jackson was starting in his second year, Hills stayed on the Steelers roster for two years without dressing.

In 2010 he shocked Steelers Nation by not only pushing for a roster spot but pushing for time under the tutelage of Sean Kugler. He saw spot duty during 2010, and got a shot at guard during the 2011 preseason. Hills couln’t cut it at guard and got cut.

But that was not the end of the line for Hills. He got signed by Denver, and then Bruce Arians brought him to Indianapolis, where he not only played in five games but started in one.

  • Perhaps Hills is another late bloomer like Brett Keisel. Regardless, it won’t be to the Steelers benefit. 

Dennis Dixon was one of the most surprising and intriguing picks of the Steelers 2008 draft class. He only started three games in Pittsburgh and wanted out after being unable to unseat Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich. Dixon is in Philly now, where the word is he’ll get a shot at starting.

Ryan Mundy entered free agency looking like someone the Steelers could and should get back if they wanted back. New York signed him away. Mundy might salvage something from a career that was trending down, but he can’t help salvage the 2008 draft class.

The “Star” of the 2008 draft class was of course to be Rashard Mendenhall. Rashard Mendenhall was no bust, and played as top five back in his best games. Mendenhall wore out his welcome in Pittsburgh East and is now in Pittsburgh West, with another shot at attaining the consistency needed to attain his potential.

“Potential.” “Potential” was the watch word here after the 2008 draft. The Steelers had stockpiled potential. Unlocking that potential at first frustrated and ultimately remained elusive.

Now Arizona, Indianapolis, New York and Philadelphia can see if they can benefit from what Pittsburgh has termed a “mistake” or in other words, their 2008 draft class.

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Steelers cut Troy Smith

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced yesterday via Twitter that they have cut 4th string quarterback and former Heisman trophy winner Troy Smith. The Steelers had signed Smith to a futures contract in January.
The decision to sign Smith surprised some, but was quite understandable as Bryon Leftwich, Charlie Batch, and Dennis Dixon were all unrestricted free agents heading into the off season. Both Leftwich and Batchhave since resigned with the Steelers.
Smith had worked out with the team throughout the off season, including OTA’s and Minicamp.
Saved by the Bell….
Anyone who (that is anyone who works a full time job) has their own site about their favorite sports team can tell you, one of the biggest frustrations is having more ideas than you have time to write about.
Sometimes, however, that is a blessing.
I know little of Troy Smith, other than he’s bounced around the league for a few years in spite of his strong college pedigree. Yet, a recently published story on Smith in the Post-Gazette, combined with tales form PG Plus about his arm strength got me thinking that perhaps Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin had brought Smith as more than insurance.
According to press reports, the Steelers actively want to groom a young signal caller to be Ben Roethlisberger’s back up. They didn’t draft a quarterback in the 2012 NFL Draft, seemingly leaving room for Troy Smith to win a job in camp.
Or so my article was about to argue.  Sometimes being too busy to write is a blessing.
Daylight for Dennis Dixon….?
Smith’s departure brings the number of experienced quarterbacks on the Steelers roster to 3. They traditionally bring four to camp to keep everyone fresh.
Dennis Dixon, the team’s 5th round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft had expected (or at least hoped) to cash in during free agency.
The first two rounds of free agency are over and the draft has come and gone and no one has called Dennis Dixon’s number.
This amounts to pure speculation on the part of Steel Curtain Rising, but one has to wonder if letting Smith go opens up a slot for the team to give Dennis Dixon a chance to win a spot in camp.
That prospect is not entirely likely, as Dixon was unhappy with his role last year and made noises about being traded, but the possibility remains.

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Steelers 2008 Draft Serves as Cautionary Tale for 2012…

Christmas came early at the South Side. And we’re not talking about the Christmas in April volunteer effort.

No, Santa Claus really did visit the Steelers.

To start, he allowed a high first round pick to fall throughout the entire first round of the draft, until he landed right at the Steelers feet.

For an encore, he allowed another pick whom many scouts had graded as first round talent to fall all the way to the bottom of the second round, where again, the Steelers snapped him right up.

Not be outdone, old St. Nick did it again, allowing another player to fall to the Steelers in the fifth round who shouldn’t have been there. Some people are already calling it the steal of the draft.

Sound familiar?

This is of course the narrative that many are affixing to the Steelers haul in the 2012 NFL Draft. Hopefully, they’re right.

But recent history provides a cautionary tale. Because everything that is being said about the Steelers 2012 draft was said, almost word for word, about their 2008 draft.

You remember, the 2008 draft that pundits such as John Harris implored the Steelers to avoid?

In 2008 Rashard Mendenhall was one of the players that the Steelers decided they would not pass on if he fell to them. Yet fall Mendenhall did, and viola, he was a Steeler.

The same process repeated itself with Limas Sweed. Many had Sweed rated as an otherwise first round pick with the only knock against him an ailing wrist. Sweed fell and the Steelers got him.

While no one was quite calling Dennis Dixon “the steal of the draft,” many said that were it not for injuries suffered during his final year in college, he too had talent worth of a first or second rounder.

Days after the 2008 NFL Draft, many rushed to declare the Steelers a success. Peter Bean of Behind the Steel Curtain (full disclosure, I also write for BTSC) went so far as to declare the Steelers 2008 effort as “The Best Steelers Draft in Years.” He explained his view this way:

And this year, unlike several of recent past, our Steelers drafted tremendous football players who didn’t necessarily fit the fans’ ideas concerning pressing needs. Pittsburgh’s brass probably didn’t plan the draft out the way it eventually wound up, but when the draft unfolded as it did, they took advantage.

That’s good drafting, and the Pittsburgh Steelers should be – in my opinion – on any short list of teams which performed best on draft day.

Four years later, any assessment of the Steelers 2008 effort must carry a decidedly different tone.

Rating the Steelers 2008 Draft

  • 1st Round, Rashard Mendenhall, RB

Mendenhall has been generally been a good running back who has flashed greatness. Were better players on the board passed over? Perhaps, but Mendenhall was a good pick.

Sweed was best known his drops in the divisional playoffs vs. San Diego and in the AFC Championship game. Injuries and mental health issues made him an early camp casualty in 2011. Bust.

Bruce Davis dressed for 5 games and recorded no stats for the Steelers. Total Bust

Hills held a clipboard in 2008 and 2009, got a taste of action in 2010, but even Sean Kugler was unable to help him. Bust.

Dixon had his shot at the big time in 2010. He did “OK” but Charlie Batch earned credit for carrying the Steelers in Ben’s absence. If its true that the Steelers did get decent value from Dixon, its also true that they didn’t get a groomable backup.

  • 6a Round, Mike Humpal, LB

Got cut in camp. Bust.

Mundy made the practice squad and has since developed into a serviceable back up.

That’s one quality starter at a crucial skill position, a solid back up, and a spot role player rounded out by four busts.

Steelers 2008 Draft vs. Steelers 2012 Draft….

There are important differences between the two drafts. Neither running back nor wide receiver were urgent needs in 2008, yet when players fell to them, the Steelers took them. That’s called sticking to your board.

The same thing happened in 2012, but this time the falling players also coincided with the Steelers needs.

And while any objective analysis must render Limas Sweed as a total bust, many forget that what made those drops so spectacular was the fact that he had totally burned the secondaries covering him.
In other words, Steelers scouts correctly evaluated Sweed in terms of talent. But that’s why Sweed remains such a cautionary tale.

The NFL Draft is as much an art as it is a science.

Every draft pick comes with an X-Factor.

In 1991, the Pittsburgh Steelers had Huey Richardson rated highly. So did many other NFL teams. Yet he was so bad that Bill Cowher traded Richardson to the Redskins before his second season and the Redskins cut him shortly thereafter.

Steelers Nation is excited about the arrival of David DeCastro, Mike Adams, Sean Spence, Alameda Ta’amu, and Chris Rainey.

And so they should be. Each man represents a huge potential shot in the arm at an area of need. The key there is “potential.”

The 2012 draft could go down as one of the best in Steelers history. Or it could go down like the 2008 draft, where the team hit on a few players, but missed on many more.

In 3 or 4 years we’ll know.

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Byron Leftwich to the Colts?

When Bruce Arians “retired” a large contingent of Steelers Nation reacted with relief.

Arians retirement lasted all of a week, and he just happened to land himself a spot as the offensive coordinator of the team that gets to select Andrew Luck. Now, apparently Arians has his eye on someone from the South Side to show Andrew Luck the ropes.

Mark Kabloy of the Tribune Review is citing league sources that indicate that Bruce Arians is trying to entice Byron Leftwhich to come to Indianapolis to help mentor his rookie quarterback (whether that signal caller turns out to be Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck.)

With 10 million in cap space the Colts could pay more than the Steelers, who are all but certain to offer Leftwich the NFL veteran minimum.

Should Lefwich Make the Switch?

Leftwich would be an interesting mentor for Luck/RG3. He was afterall a franchise quarterback for Jacksonville, having been drafted 7th overall in the 2003 draft. His stint in the spot light lasted less than four years and soon found himself on the waiver wire being asked to mop up the mess left in the wake of Michael Vick’s troubles with the law.

When Charlie Batch got injured in preseason in 2008, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert wasted little time bringing in veterans Daunte Culpepper and Byron Leftwich. The rules of the audition were clear: You’re here to back up Ben Roethlisberger. That’s it. Period.

Leftwich took the deal and got a Super Bowl ring for his troubles. After Super Bowl XLII Leftwich considered staying on in Pittsburgh, but opted for “greener” pastures in Tampa. Tampa had other plans, and Leftwich’s time as a starter lasted all of 3 games.

When Midgeville entered the vernacular of Steelers Nation, Mike Tomlin did not hesitate to bring Leftwich back and since that moment Tomlin has shown ever sign of anointing Leftwich as his official “number two.”

In Pittsburgh, Leftwich remains on a team whose Super Bowl most likely remains open. With the Colts, Leftwich will be with a team starting from almost zero and with little question as to who their signal call of the future is.

Would the Steelers be Better off if Arians did Poach Leftwich?

Byron Leftwich brings a lot to the backup quarterback position. He’s got 49 NFL starts to his name, a veteran presence, and an absolute rocket for an arm.

Bryon Leftwich is perhaps the only Steelers quarterback who has a hope of hitting Mike Wallace in full stride.

Mobility, however, is decidedly not one of Leftwich’s assets. Neither is durability. He has never played a full season. His stints in Jacksonville, Tampa and, if memory serves, Atlanta, all ended with him on IR. Leftwich spent the entire 2011 season on injured reserve, and was unable to start the first 4 games of 2010 due to an injury in preseason.

The Steelers have a lot of reasons to like Leftwich, but wonder if Arians might be doing the Steelers a favor by taking Leftwich off their hands and forcing Mike Tomlin to develop or find a more durable back up quarterback.

On the flip side, injuries can be streaky. For several years running the Steelers have wanted to keep Charlie Batch off the roster – who broke his wrist while playing just three downs in 2009 – because he was brittle.

Both times injuries to younger players, in the form of Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, forced the Steelers to keep Batch on the roster, and both times Batch delivered.

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Steelers Put Byron Leftwich on IR – Did They Err?

In addition to cutting a score of so of players Friday, the Steelers made an additional roster move by placing back up quarterback Byron Leftwich on the injured reserve.

Placing Leftwich on IR comes as no surprise in the wake the broken arm he suffered against Atlanta.

But did the Steelers make the right move?

Leftwich is now lost for the year.

The motive fueling the Steelers move is obvious. Mike Tomlin likes Bryon Leftwich, and Bryon Leftwich likes playing in Pittsburgh. He liked it so much that he considered sacrificing a chance to start by staying in Pittsburgh after Super Bowl XLIII.

That start only lasted a few games, and Tampa traded Leftwich back to the Steelers for a song prior to the 2010 NFL draft.

Tomlin sees Leftwich as his long-term back up, much the way that Bill Cowher viewed Mike Tomzack in the 1990’s.

Steelers Nation has a lot to like in Bryon Leftwich. He’s former franchise quarterback whose settled in comfortably into his role as second in command.

While thoroughly immobile, Leftwich has an absolute cannon for an arm. Bruce Arians always need worry that Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, and Dennis Dixon will under throw Mike Wallace on deep route.

Such worries will never exist with Leftwich.

Nice as that is, the stark reality of the situation is that the broken arm reunited Leftwich with an old friend – the injured reserve list.

Credit goes to Nice Pick Cowher for pointing this out a few days ago.

Since joining the league in Leftwich:

  • Missed 5 games in 2005 with a broken ankle
  • Started six games then went on IR with a broken ankle in 2006
  • Injuries kept him inactive for 13 games for Atlanta in 2007
  • Finished 2009 on IR after starting 3 games

Unlike Nice Pick Cowher, Steel Curtain Rising has a favorable impression of Leftwich’s skills, although one must concede that Leftwich would get killed behind this line.

Before Leftwich got hurt in the 2010 preseason finale, Charlie Batch was the odd man out. No one in the Steelers organization ever questioned Batch’s skills, leadership, or commitment to the team.

Tomlin’s preference for Batch over Byron had everything to do with the former’s fragility.

The Steelers of course take no risk in putting Leftwich on IR other than being on the hook for his 2011 salary.

But one has to wonder if Tomin errs by not giving Leftwich’s durability deeper consideration before annointing him as the Steelers long term back up quarterback.

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Steelers Lose to Redskins in Preseason

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened the 2011 preseason with a lackluster loss to the Washington Redskins. Mike Tomlin kept most of his key offensive starters in for a series, but opted to keep much of his defense in until the second quarter.

The defense nonetheless gave up a long drive and a touchdown.

The only real news to come out of the game is that Ike Taylor may have injured his thumb. Isaac Redman looked sharp, running for a 22 yard touchdown. Steelers first round draft pick Cameron Heyward also apparently looked good in his first taste of NFL action.

A quick look at the stat sheet reveals that some of the guys on the bubble did little to advance their case for a roster spot. Running back Jonathan Dwyer managed a partly 7 yards on 5 carries; Tyler Grisham did not record a catch, and Dennis Dixon completed one of ten passes.

Fortunately, for Steelers Nation, our Beloved Black and Gold get three more dress rehearsals before the games count.

The game, of course, was not shown down here in Buenos Aires, so please by all means share your insights. Did young rookie unexpectedly turn any heads? How did Keenan Lewis look? Any and all observations are welcome.


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Steelers 2011 Draft Needs: Quarterback and Tight End

The Steelers show few cards regarding their predraft strategy, but they’ve been pretty clear that quarterback and tight end are not high on their radar screens heading into the 2011 NFL draft.

There’s some justification for that.

Quarterback

While some teams are content to back up their starters with no-names the Steelers follow a different path which yielded dividends in 2010.

Barring injury or more off the field indiscretion, the Steelers brass will not seek a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger via the draft for the foreseeable future.

Behind Ben you have Charlie Batch, Bryon Leftwich, and Dennis Dixon, all of whom took snaps in 2010. While Dixon could be a potential free agency defection, depending on the CBA/lockout situation, the Steelers figure to enter 2011 having too much depth at quarterback. A good problem to have.

  • Draft Priority of Quarterback for the Steelers in 2011: Nill.

Tight End

Statistically Health Miller might have taken a step back in 2010, but don’t be fooled. Miller is one of the NFL’s best kept secrets, and his blocking ability is under estimated.

For a couple of years Matt Spaeth didn’t do much, except catch balls on the rare occasions they were thrown to him, and frequently those ended up being touchdowns. The coaches seemed to be willing to call his number more in 2010 and, as his performance in the Jet’s regular season game indicates, Spaeth didn’t quiet step up.

David Johnson on the other had, did make strides, although those seem to be widely ignored or discounted. He made his impact felt with his blocking and he stepped up and caught the ball on a few occasions when counted (like in the second Baltimore game.)

  • Draft Priority of Tight End for the Steelers in 2011: Low to moderate.

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Dennis Dixon Goes on IR, Steelers Sign McLendon

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon, who started the team’s first two games, has been put on injured reserve according to the Post-Gazette.

Everything about this move was widely expected, except for the timing.

With Dixon out until mid-November, the Steelers were expected to put Dixon on IR and go with Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch as back ups to Ben Roethlisberger.

But the Steelers needed to make the move because back up Chris Hoke did not practice all week and will not play against the Ravens. The Steelers activated Steve McLendon from their practice squad.

Chance of Losing McLendon?

McLendon played during the Steelers victory over Tennessee, and the Steelers were able to put him on waivers and return him to the practice squad after the game.

However, if McLendon performs against the Ravens the way he performed against the Titans, the Steelers may run the risk of losing him if the expose him to the waiver wire again. Still, they need him active for the Ravens game, so they’ve been left with no choice.

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