Snapshot: Tim Levcik

He stands 6 feet 6 and peppers the ball around the yard with an arm that can wing it 75 yards down the field. <br><br> However, there's another reason Tim Levcik stood out as a quarterback at the Steelers' rookie orientation camp in late April: He'd already been through the process.

The former four-year starter at nearby Robert Morris College went to training camp with the Miami Dolphins last year in an experience he can't help but remember, and would like to forget.

"I never played in front of more than like 8,000 people ever," Levcik said. "So I might have gone out there and froze a little bit."

Levcik made only one preseason appearance with the Dolphins after joining them as a rookie free agent in the spring of 2002. He went to training camp with three other quarterbacks -- Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas and fellow rookie free agent Zak Kustok -- after Cade McNown had been cut in June.

"I figured I had a pretty good shot," Levcik said. "Fiedler had surgery on his hips so I got a lot more reps in training camp, so I was feeling pretty good. I was doing pretty well."

Levcik was in the running for a roster spot until he reached the field late in the third quarter of the second preseason game. With the New Orleans Saints holding a 17-7 lead, Levcik completed only five of 22 passes for 61 yards and a passer rating of 1.7. The Saints won, 24-7, and Levcik was cut the following week.

"Things didn't really go well," he said. "I think it was a little more of a step up than I was used to."

And that's the advantage he brings to the Steelers. He's been through the initial knee-knocker and figures to show his natural form this time out.

"I've been coming in since March 1, working out," he said. "Knowing it in your head is one thing and going out and doing it is something else. As far as chalkboard work and everything goes, I feel confident, but I've been out of football since September so it's a little rough. I just have to get out there and work through it, but I feel pretty good."

After watching four rookie-camp practices, Steelers Coach Bill Cowher said, "He throws the ball very well. [He's a] big tall guy who can stand in the pocket. His size is a big plus for him to be able to see over the big linemen. I've been impressed with him."

Levcik impressed the Steelers during his four-year run as starter at Robert Morris. A native of Pittsburgh suburb Ford Cliff, Levcik graduated from Ford City in 1998 after playing only one year at quarterback. The converted tight end/linebacker didn't draw much attention from college recruiters following a 3-7 senior season.

"A couple schools offered me to walk on, but you never know if you're going somewhere to sit on the bench for three years and I wanted to play," Levcik said. "Robert Morris was close to home, Joe Walton's there [as coach], and it worked out. I started every game since the second half of the first game."

Walton was the Steelers' offensive coordinator in 1990-91 and his scheme confused quarterback Bubby Brister so thoroughly that Brister finally admitted to reporters, "I'm fixin' to come unglued."

"It's exactly the same offense," Levcik said of Walton's scheme at Robert Morris. "It was difficult. You know, in high school it's just throw to the open guy, so this was different, a lot of shifts and everything. But he showed us old books from when he was here and it was the same exact everything. It helped me out, but as I said before, pro-style is another step up. You've got to learn hot reads and blitzes and we really didn't do that stuff at Robert Morris. We just schemed to pick up the blitz and hopefully you got rid of it."

At Robert Morris, Levcik was a two-time Northeast Conference (Division I-AA) Offensive Player of the Year. As a senior, he set school records for completions (152), yards (2,110) and touchdowns (22). In four years, he threw for 7,222 yards, 76 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

"He's got a lot of tools," Walton told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "And he's very tough, mentally and physically, which you have to be at that position. He's going to need some footwork and working on his movement because he's a classic drop-back quarterback."

"I'm confident in what I do. I'm prepared to battle it out," Levcik said as rookie camp came to a close. "My arm probably stands out the most. Sometimes it might get me in trouble a little bit. Sometimes you see a receiver and have a split second to get it in there and sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. But I'd say my size and arm strength are the reasons I'm here."

Jim Wexell

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