QB Dennis Dixon deserves first-team reps

The Pittsburgh Steelers have fewer than three weeks before their regular-season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. Therefore, it's now or never for quarterback Dennis Dixon to share first-team reps with Byron Leftwich.

Pittsburgh is in a unique situation with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger due to serve a conditional six-game suspension. But if the Steelers are truly holding an "open" competition to replace Roethlisberger -- which is often debated in Pittsburgh -- it's confusing that Dixon spent this offseason and training camp working with backups and, in some cases, players who won't make the team. The Steelers simply could have named Leftwich the starter months ago and moved forward.

Dixon has been stellar in the preseason, completing 13 of 15 passes for 210 yards in two games. There is no reason to get overly excited about Dixon playing well against opposing backups. But his performance should be enough to spark the Steelers' curiosity to see what he can do against a first-team defense.

But based on the past few months, there is no guarantee that will be the case. It's also unlikely Dixon suddenly will get promoted in Week 1 with little or no work with the starters. So everyone should know within the next week or two if Dixon is truly in the running.

Is Dixon the best option for Pittsburgh at quarterback? It's too early to say.

But in our opinion, Dixon deserves an opportunity.