Pittsburgh Steelers

Stadium: Heinz Field | Coach: Mike Tomlin
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense4th104.2 (19th)273.8 (3rd)
Defense5th105.8 (9th)201.1 (7th)

Steelers report: Inside slant

The Sports Xchange
Inside slant · Strategy and personnel · Notes, quotes

The more Mike Tomlin insists his three "other" quarterbacks will get opportunities to compete for Ben Roethlisberger's job, the more snaps Byron Leftwich takes with the first team.

The Steelers knocked out three more OTA practices this week and Leftwich ran with the ones in all three after doing so in five minicamp practices early this month. They are down to nine OTAs remaining for either Dennis Dixon or Charlie Batch to get their "opportunity" because Tomlin has said he will know his No. 1 quarterback entering training camp, or at least that's what he said last week.

"I won't necessarily know who the starter is, per se, by the end of the OTAs," Tomlin said this week. "I did make a comment last week in regards to how I'm approaching it. I really don't believe it's an effective approach to go in with a pure open quarterback competition, if you will, a three-headed quarterback battle. There simply aren't enough snaps to go around.

"We'll go in with a pecking order, if you will, and the opportunities to show what you're capable of will be based on that pecking order. All guys will be given an opportunity, not an equal opportunity, that's the nature of this game, the nature of this business. I will make those judgments based on intuition and knowledge I have of the men at an appropriate time and we'll proceed."

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians says it's a process that starts with the system and goes from there.

"This time of year you find out what they can do," Arians said of the quarterbacks. "You keep stretching the envelope and say, 'OK, this is the offense, everybody's doing it,' and then you just make mental notes as you go along: 'He really struggles with that throw or he really struggles with that footwork, or this type of read or letting him change protections.' So If and when the time comes to call on one you can tailor your game plan to fit him."

The different styles of the quarterbacks does not matter, Arians said.

"You have an offense that you hope is broad enough that can fit each guy's style, what he does best, and you don't ask guys to do things they can't do. That's the key to all offenses is you take your personnel, you find out what we can do and it's broad enough if an injury occurs here or there."

Roethlisberger is suspended for the first four games of the season and he still has not been cleared by the commissioner to rejoin his teammates for spring practice. Tomlin said that's not necessarily a good thing.

"It is important to work, that's why we work."

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