Monday, April 16, 2012
What does Batch return mean for Leftwich?
By Jamison Hensley
The Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed Charlie Batch to a one-year deal on Monday, but this doesn't necessarily mean he will be the team's top backup in 2012.
There's still a sense that Byron Leftwich is still the favorite for that spot. But there's no guarantee that Leftwich is coming back. He reportedly has drawn interest from the Indianapolis Colts and former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, although he remains unsigned.
Bringing back Batch is a logical move for the Steelers. He's been their decade-old security blanket when it comes to the backup quarterback position. When you need a spot starter, he won't single-handedly win you games but he won't make the glaring errors to lose them either.
If Leftwich goes elsewhere, the Steelers have Batch, who is 5-2 as a spot starter for the Steelers. If Leftwich returns to Pittsburgh, the Steelers get a quarterback who is five years younger than Batch and appears to be the preferred choice. Leftwich was supposed to start for the suspended Ben Roethlisberger in 2010, but he hurt his knee in the final preseason game. He was also projected to be the team's No. 2 quarterback last season before breaking his arm in the preseason.
Even though Leftwich has major durability questions, you have to be equally unsure whether Batch can hold up for an extended period at his age. Last year, Batch looked solid in his only start, a 27-0 win over St. Louis, but he looked ragged in replacing Roethlisberger in the first meeting against Cleveland. The only quarterback from last year that is expected to move on is Dennis Dixon.
The backup quarterback position is the most critical No. 2 job on the Steelers, especially with the annual beating that Roethlisberger takes. Roethlisberger has managed one full season in his eight years in the NFL. The most games that Roethlisberger has missed in a season is four.
This is the latest in a series of moves by the Steelers to address their depth. Pittsburgh has signed tight end Leonard Pope, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and guard Trai Essex over the past week. Keeping Batch was the most important one considering the only other quarterbacks on the roster were Troy Smith and Jerrod Johnson.