The final day of August was a busy day for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who maneuvered Antonio Brown's contract to give him an additional $4 million this season and also learned that James Harrison had been cleared in the NFL's PED fishing incident.
But the surprise came late in the afternoon when the NFL announced the Steelers had claimed QB Zach Mettenberger.
With Bryn Renner having undergone a week-long cram session to play Thursday night's preseason finale in Carolina, Mettenberger may not be judged to have had enough prep time. And if he doesn't play, will he practice before the Steelers make final cuts Saturday? Will they even have a practice scheduled? And does this mean Mettenberger has a roster spot locked up?
It's possible the Steelers could be basing their evaluation on his game against them in 2014. On Monday night, Nov. 17 in Tennessee, Mettenberger played his best career game in a narrow 27-24 Steelers win.
Mettenberger's first pass of the night was intercepted by Will Gay and returned 28 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Steelers lead, but the 6-5, 225-pound rookie QB rallied the Titans to a 24-13 lead as the game went into the fourth quarter. The Steelers got two touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger in the final quarter, held the Titans to one first down and ran out the clock with Le'Veon Bell finishing with 204 yards to eke out the win.
Mettenberger completed 15 of 24 passes for 263 yards and a passer rating of 110.2, his career high. But it was one of 10 losses in his 10 starts with the Titans and he was released last May 16. The San Diego Chargers picked him up the next day and released him yesterday. The Steelers claimed him off the waiver wire and put veteran QB Bruce Gradkowski on Injured Reserve.
Mettenberger was born in Athens, Ga., and attended his hometown school, the University of Georgia, but was kicked off the team after being arrested on misdemeanor sexual battery charges at a local bar.
He attended a junior college for a year before transferring to LSU in 2011. Mettenberger became the starting QB in 2012 and as a two-year captain started 25 games and guided the Tigers to a 19-6 record. He became the first LSU QB to pass for over 2,500 yards in back-to-back seasons.
A torn ACL in the 2013 regular-season finale kept Mettengerber from working out at the NFL Combine and perhaps hurt his draft status. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by the Titans and became a starter as a rookie.
The highlights of the scouting reports on Mettenberger in 2014 are a strong arm, personal maturity growth since his freshman incident and the fact he played for former NFL offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in 2013. Mettenberger's primary negatives coming out were a lack of mobility and a slow passing delivery.
As of today, Mettenberger is behind Roethlisberger and Landry Jones on the depth chart and competing with Renner for the final spot with the unit.