Grading The Players - Quarterbacks

Following is a series grading the players and strength of position for the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Steelers. <br><br><b>Today:</b> The quarterbacks<br><br>

Tommy Maddox is ticked off that he's making less money than backup Charlie Batch, but don't expect Maddox to skip any time at training camp as a way of trying to get the Steelers to re-work his contract.

After dropping out of the NFL for a few years and working himself back into the league, Maddox isn't ready throw everything by the wayside over a contract dispute.

Maddox started 11 games last season, missing one game and two starts after suffering a spinal concussion, completing 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,836 yards, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

The interceptions were more than the Steelers would like, but after a pretty good season, they are expecting even better things this year, his second as a starter. Grade B

Backup Charlie Batch didn't throw a pass last season playing behind Maddox and Kordell Stewart, but is a veteran quarterback who gives the Steelers one of the more experienced second QBs in the league.

Batch isn't spectacular, but he's better than half the backups in the league. Grade C+

The Steelers selected Brian St. Pierre of Boston College in the fifth round of the draft this year and he'll battle Tim Levcik for the third spot.

St. Pierre is something of a project, but the Steelers like his upside, especially considering the past few Boston College quarterbacks have gone on to have NFL success after spending a few seasons on the bench learning. Grade Incomplete

The Steelers signed the 6-6, 234-pound Levcik at the conclusion of the 2003 season as an offseason arm.

He has shown good arm strength, but his accuracy is somewhat lacking. He has a head start on St. Pierre having signed a few months before the Steelers took St. Pierre in the draft, but one would think Levcik would have to markedly outplay St. Pierre in training camp to win the No. 3 job.

Final analysis: While there are some questions about whether Maddox can put together another strong season, the Steelers have a nice situation with a proven player like Batch as his backup. That's probably a good thing given Maddox's style of play. Neither Maddox or Batch has proven to be all that durable. Overall position grade B-minus

Dale Lolley

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