Batch named starting QB

Tomlin names Batch starting quarterback for the Steelers' game Sunday at Tampa Bay.

PITTSBURGH – Back in the Tony Dungy days at Tampa Bay, back when the Buccaneers were a true NFC power, one quarterback seemed to have their number.

And Charlie Batch will get another crack at the Bucs this Sunday. Coach Mike Tomlin announced after Wednesday's practice that Batch will start for the Steelers over former Buc Byron Leftwich.

It will be Batch's first start since the 2007 finale at Baltimore, and the first start at Tampa Bay since he won games there in 1998 and 2000, his only two starts there.

Overall, Batch is 4-2 against Tampa Bay while playing for the Detroit Lions from 1998 through 2001. Against the rest of the league during that time, Tampa Bay went 34-24.

Suffice to say, this Sunday's game will be a bit easier for Batch, since Tampa Bay, in spite of its 2-0 start, is in a rebuilding phase.

"For me, there won't be many more opportunities," said the 35-year-old Batch. "You're starting to get up there in years. Obviously, you're blessed just to be out there in this situation and really throwing your hat into the ring, so to speak. You're blessed, and then you wait for that opportunity. Of course, a couple weeks ago I was a little disappointed because I didn't get that."

Batch, in fact, wasn't even supposed to make the Steelers' roster. He was told as much by the actions of the coaching staff during training camp when Batch was given mere fourth-team duties and no work with the first team. But he was impressive in the fourth preseason game, and when Byron Leftwich was injured that night, Batch's roster spot was spared.

Batch moved up in the pecking order last Sunday when Dennis Dixon was injured at Tennessee. Batch stepped and completed only 5 of 11 passes for 25 yards, but Tomlin said that Batch was the victim of at least three drops, two of which could've resulted in touchdowns. Batch also had a touchdown pass called back because of a penalty.

"Those are the kind of plays you've got to make for a quarterback, particularly when you're playing with one who hasn't played a bunch or is in a backup situation," Tomlin said. "We weren't able to do that. That's why we haven't been able to ring the scoreboard up by 7s. We'll continue to work at it. Hopefully we produce some this week."

In Batch's last start, the 2007 loss at Baltimore, he completed 16 of 31 passes for 218 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He's started only four games (3-1) during his nine seasons with the Steelers, with much of his inactivity due to injuries.

Backing up Batch Sunday will be Leftwich, who said his knee's feeling better every day. Behind those two is wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, who takes approximately six snaps per week as quarterback for the scout team.

"I'm ready," said Randle El. "Let the bullets fly."


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