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<p>When relationships go sour, there's often a lot of finger-pointing, taking of sides and mud slinging. Charlie Batch, however, has chosen to take the high road in his much-publicized split with the Detroit Lions.</p>

"That's all ancient history," Batch said. "It really serves no purpose to talk about it."

Detroit cut Batch in the offseason to clear salary-cap space and to make room for rookie quarterback Joey Harrington, its first-round pick of this year, and Mike McMahon, last year's fifth-round pick.

He'll make his return to Detroit today as a backup for the Steelers when they open the Lions' new stadium - Ford Field - in a preseason contest. Batch, who had three years and $10 million left on his contract when he was cut, completed 56 percent of his passes for 9,016 yards with 49 touchdowns and 40 interceptions in his four years as the starter for the Lions.

But Batch was clearly not a favorite of new team president Matt Millen and coach Marty Mornhinweg last season and eventually lost his job to McMahon. While Batch admits getting cut was difficult, he understands the decision the Lions' brass made.

"A new regime came in. They want their own guys," Batch said. "They have a right to do that. For me, I didn't take it personally because I know I can play. It wasn't me being released because I couldn't play."

Things couldn't have worked out better for both Batch and the Steelers. Pittsburgh signed Batch, a Homestead native, soon after he was released by Detroit to a one-year $750,000 deal. He's currently competing with Tommy Maddox for the team's second-string quarterback position behind Kordell Stewart.

Stewart will not play today against the Lions after suffering a concussion in the first quarter of last week's 35-34 loss at Washington. Head coach Bill Cowher said Maddox, who did not play against the Redskins, would play the entire first half against the Lions, while Batch would play the second half.

Batch may have taken a huge step toward winning the job against the Redskins, replacing Stewart with about five minutes left in the first quarter and completing 8-of-9 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown before be knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a laceration on his chin.

"I think the way the circumstances unfolded, him having to come in for Kordell as quickly as he did, that's as close to a real situation as you're going to have in the regular season, and he performed very well," Cowher said. "I think it gave him a lot of confidence, certainly the confidence of the players around him, and you could see that he's a guy that has played in this  league. The game experience part of it really showed at that point."

In the first two preseason games, Batch has completed 15-of-18 passes for 189 yards and a TD.

Maddox, who holds an edge over Batch in that he is the holder for placekicker Todd Peterson, is 12 of 16 for 147 yards.

For Detroit, which is coming off a 2-14 season, McMahon is expected to start and play most of the first half before Harrington comes in to finish the game.

The game will be the first at Detroit's new stadium, Ford Field, a new $500-million facility in downtown Detroit.

Stewart won't be the only big name who won't play for the Steelers. Linebacker Kendrell Bell will sit out with an ankle injury, while guard Kendall Simmons, the Steelers' No. 1 pick in this year's draft, will sit out with a hamstring injury.

The Steelers must trim their roster to 65 players by Tuesday. They currently have 83 players on their roster.

--Dale Lolley

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