AFC North: Byron Leftiwch

Reviewing Scouts Inc. on Dennis Dixon

September, 3, 2010
9/03/10
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Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. believed Dennis Dixon was the best choice to be the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 1 starter even before Byron Leftwich's knee injury.

[+] EnlargeDennis Dixon
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireDennis Dixon's scrambling ability could open things up in Pittsburgh's running game.
That prospect is closer to reality now that Leftwich reportedly suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. That likely rules out Leftwich for Pittsburgh's regular-season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. He was hit low against the Carolina Panthers Thursday during a pass attempt in the first half.

All eyes are now on Dixon to take over during Ben Roethlisberger's suspension. Despite his inexperience (one career start), Williamson likes what Dixon adds to Pittsburgh's offense.

"Dixon is talented," Williamson wrote this week. "His running ability is extremely impressive and that playmaking ability with the ball in his hands is the first thing you notice with Dixon. He also has a big arm and can deliver the ball on the run or from improbable body positions."

Pittsburgh's running game will be vital during this period. The Steelers' best chance of winning without Roethlisberger is to run the ball well and play great defense.

Williamson believes Dixon's mobility keeps defenders on edge, which could help starting tailback Rashard Mendenhall. Dixon also showed multiple times in the preseason that he can run for first downs when plays break down.

"Playing man-to-man against the Steelers is tougher to pull off with Dixon in the lineup," Williamson wrote. "But much like when Vince Young took over in Tennessee last season and Chris Johnson's rushing totals went through the roof, it is harder to defend the running game from an alignment and assignment standpoint on defense. The contain defenders must respect the bootleg and can't crash down on the inside run as hard."

Pittsburgh's quarterback derby was unique from the start and had plenty of twists and turns. Therefore, it was only fitting that a last-minute curveball would occur right before the start of the regular season, which opened the door for Dixon.

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