And then there were two QBs

Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon are the Steelers' choices for opening day. Dale Lolley takes a look at both, among other post-game topics.

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to keep the identity of his opening-day starting quarterback a secret as long as possible.

He may not have a choice in the matter now.

When reserve offensive lineman Jonathan Scott was thrown into Byron Leftwich's left knee in the second quarter of Thursday night's 19-3 victory in the preseason finale, the Steelers were likely left with little choice. Dennis Dixon will be their starting quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger serves his suspension to open the season.

Charlie Batch, the forgotten man, also may have hit the lottery.

Batch was probably on his way out until Leftwich's injury, the severity of which won't be known for sure until Friday.

If as feared it's an MCL sprain, Leftwich will miss four weeks. Even if Roethlisberger's suspension is reduced by NFL commissioner to four games, Leftwich won't do the Steelers any good.

In fact, if Leftwich's injury appears to be at least four weeks in length, the Steelers should place him on injured reserve and move on with the season.

Suddenly, all of that playing time Tomlin gave Dixon in the preseason may pay off.

* I don't want to step on the tail of a Steelers legend, but Terry Bradshaw should keep quiet regarding Roethlisberger's suspension.

Bradshaw said in an interview that he hopes Roethlisberger's suspension is not reduced because he feels the quarterback's behavior was inexcusable.

While I would agree that Roethlisberger made some mistakes in judgment, at what point did Bradshaw, who has been married several times and has made no bones about the fact he doesn't like Roethlisberger, become our moral compass?

Whether you agree with Commissioner Roger Goodell's decision or not, he made it and said that if Roethlisberger did what was asked of him, it would be reduced to four games. Goodell has said numerous times that Roethlisberger has gone above and beyond what has been asked of him. Thus, we can expect the suspension to be reduced whether Bradshaw likes it or not.

* I saw some hungry players on the field Thursday night, perhaps none more so than third-year linebacker Patrick Bailey.

The special teams ace was all over the field against the Panthers, blowing up plays and generally proving to be a menace to Carolina's offense.

That said, Bailey likely has no shot of making this roster.

* Could rookie running back Jonathan Dwyer's last-ditch effort – 86 hard yards on 20 carries – have earned him a roster spot?

That would be a tough one.

Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman are givens on the roster. It would also appear that fullback Frank Sanders has a spot as well.

Can this team afford to keep five running backs? It would be so at the expense of another position, such as linebacker or cornerback, unless offensive coordinator Bruce Arians finally gets his way and completely does away with the fullback position and releases Summers.

* Maurkice Pouncey proved to be human after all.

Don't fear, Pouncey will be the team's starting center. But he had a tough opening quarter against the Panthers, snapping the ball over Roethlisberger's head in the shotgun, which led to a sack, and then false-starting in the second series.

But the kid continues to look like a young Dermontti Dawson as a blocker. He gets to the secondary levels consistently.

* The amazing part of Dwyer's night was the Carolina had to know the Steelers were going to run the ball - they only attempted four passes after Dixon's second quarter TD pass to Emmanuel Sanders – and he still gained 84 yards.

Perhaps even more amazing than that was that Dwyer did that with Kraig Urbik pretending to be one of his blockers.

* Sanders and Antonio Brown have both shown enough as return men that the Steelers should have no qualms about cutting Stefan Logan.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)


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