Steelers depth chart: Brian Hoyer's days with are numbered

Jared Wickerham

Hoyer was an instant fan favorite for seven quarters of football, though he never took a snap. Now, it looks like he never will.

With the imminent return of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a sense of normalcy is returning to the lineup. After being ravaged by injuries, that pandemic finally hit the team's most valuable player in Week 10.

With Roethlisberger out, the team turned to Byron Leftwich, who lasted no more than three full quarters (maybe less) before suffering an injury of his own. Out of necessity, the team signed a fourth quarterback - a rare move for the franchise - Brian Hoyer for the sake of emergency.

With Roethlisberger returning and Leftwich being even closer to a full return, Hoyer's release is expected to come no later than this time next week - barring further injury.

While that statement would make it appear that the coaches intended to give Hoyer the majority of the snaps in practice, expecting him to start; he was most likely receiving the bulk of the snaps in practice to get him further up to speed on the offense, in case his services were required. Now, with Ben taking those snaps in lieu of his return to the field, week 14 against the Chargers could be Hoyer's last game in a Steeler jersey.

Hoyer signed his contract with the Steelers shortly after Week 11, a loss in which Leftwich suffered broken ribs. The injury thrust Batch into the starting lineup, a position he's held for the last two games (1-1).

That one loss doesn't even fall on Batch's shoulders - at least not exclusively. Despite his physical fortitude, the Steelers fumbled away a very winnable game under his leadership. Batch tossed three interceptions in that 20-14 loss at Cleveland in Week 12, and with each one, the cries for Hoyer's debut grew louder. The coaches did not listen, or refused to hear those calls, possibly taking into account the receiver's part in each of those picks. Batch retained his starting job heading into Baltimore.

While the Hoyer grumblings were rumbling early against Baltimore in Week 13, particularly after Batch missed a wide open Mike Wallace in the end zone at the end of the first half, Batch redeemed himself in the second half leading the Steelers to an improbable victory.

Hoyer was no longer seen as a necessary implant.

Because of Roethlisberger's rebounding healthy, it's unlikely Hoyer will dress for the game against the Chargers. If he does, it would be the first time since the new CBA was signed (and the "emergency quarterback" position was eliminated) the Steelers would have three active quarterbacks on gameday.

Quarterback isn't the only position facing injuries, so the extra roster spot is needed. They dressed eight offensive linemen for the first time in Week 13, as rookie Kelvin Beachum started in place of Mike Adams at right tackle, and Doug Legursky started at center while Maurkice Pouncey moved to left guard to fill in for injured Willie Colon.

Hoyer probably stays on the roster through this game. Should something happen on Sunday, Hoyer may be needed to back up Batch, depending on Leftwich's status.

If Roethlisberger makes it through the Week 14 contest unscathed, those doubts will be laid to rest; as will the contract of one, Brian Hoyer.

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