QB rotation settled -- sort of

It's a QB dilemma unique to the NFL, and Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin has his eye on a short-term solution. That and more from the first day of training camp.

LATROBE – Should the Steelers prepare a quarterback who'll start the season, or the quarterback who'll start three-fourths of the season?

Hines Ward didn't flinch at the question.

"The start of the season," said Ward as he reported to training camp along with the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday. "You always want to get off on the right foot."

An hour later, at his first camp press conference, Mike Tomlin agreed with his veteran receiver.

"We'll do like we've done the majority of the spring," Tomlin said of the camp quarterback rotation. "Byron Leftwich is going to get a significant number of snaps, followed by Dennis Dixon. But we will be somewhat non-rhythmic, of course. We're going to make sure that at the end of this thing that Ben (Roethlisberger) has had a productive camp, but as we proceed at this juncture our focus is who's going to be playing quarterback for us the week of the opener."

Roethlisberger, of course, will be suspended four to six games by the league, according to Commissioner Roger Goodell's discretion.

Roethlisberger reported to training camp yesterday looking tanned and fit, but he did not discuss the suspension, or much of anything with reporters aside from a brief statement. He left the talking to Leftwich, the clear-cut No. 1 QB throughout this peculiar situation.

"This is the first time for everybody, not just the players," Leftwich said. "It's you'all's first time covering something like this. It's our first time being a part of something like this. But at the same time, one thing I know about this organization and this team: There's really only one goal and that's to do whatever we've got to do to win football games."


Ward missed the entire spring workout schedule with a hamstring injury, but said the injury has healed and he's ready to practice.

"Health is great. Health is great," Ward said. "Hamstring's great. Been working out. My weight's super, super low, so I feel good. Every year there are always challenges for me, especially with me getting older, so I make sure I work harder. I motivate myself even though I don't feel like I have to prove anything to people now."

Still, Ward was held out of Friday's conditioning test along with the rest of the Steelers' "thirtysomethings."

"I begged Mike to let me run the run test," Ward said. "But he wouldn't let me do it." Ward will practice Saturday morning.

"Yeah," he said. "I'm full go. I'm full go. I'm ready to go."


Once again the media couldn't watch the conditioning test from the field, but Tomlin said he was "very pleased with the overall conditioning of the group." The only player required to run who did not was first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey, who just signed his contract.

"You guys are all welcome to watch him execute that tomorrow at 6 a.m. if you so choose," Tomlin told reporters.

Tomlin also liked what he saw in the run test from Troy Polamalu, who missed most of last season with a knee injury.

"He looked great out there and ran well," Tomlin said. "So far so good, but we haven't done much yet."


Rookie tackle Chris Scott and backup outside linebacker Andre Frazier will start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Scott injured his knee earlier this summer, while Frazier is experiencing "knee discomfort," according to Tomlin.


Next Friday night, the Steelers will practice in downtown Latrobe and the next day they'll bus to Canton, Ohio to witness defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The team will return that night and practice Sunday afternoon.

"We're excited about it," Tomlin said. "What a great opportunity to have a field trip for a football team: camaraderie, come together, a little bus ride, but more importantly than that is the guy we all love and admire. It's a special day for him and by no means do we intend to miss it."


Defensive end Brett Keisel on his new beard: "Yeah, well you know it's a big thing today to go green. So I'm trying to be a little Kevin Greene, a little Mean Joe Greene."

Linebacker James Farrior on the return of linebacker Larry Foote: "It's great to have that loudmouth back in the locker room. We missed him last year."

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