Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette wrote Sunday QBs Charlie Batch and Jerrod Johnson will back-up starter Ben Roethlisberger in tonight's primetime game against Indianapolis in Pittsburgh. Byron Leftwich will not play.
Leftwich got an extended look in Pittsburgh's preseason-opening loss to Philadelphia Aug. 9, and after taking a shot to the head by Eagles CB Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie (a hit that cost him $21,000), perhaps the Steelers decided it was a better time to give him a break.
More likely, it's just a competition between Batch and Johnson for the team's third quarterback position.
Johnson made some poor throws against Philadelphia, but only attempted six passes, largely due to a shaky offensive line that surrendered pressure on nearly every drop back all three quarterbacks had in the game. The bulk of his 93 passing yards came on Chris Rainey's 57-yard touchdown reception off a screen pass.
Batch did not play in the opener, but saw time as recently as Week 16 last season, a 27-7 win over the visiting St. Louis Rams. Batch threw for 208 yards on 15-for-22 passing in that game, and looked every bit the game manager a back-up quarterback should look.
The pressure is really more on Johnson, who must outplay Batch to stay with the team past the preseason and off its practice squad.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has commended Johnson on his work ethic and attitude, and he's preparing for this game with all intentions of proving he belongs.
Considering Batch's experience, though, it will take quite a bit from Johnson to unseat him. A third-string quarterback must obviously be prepared to play in the event of an emergency, but also handles a critical role in terms of preparation during the season. Working to ensure the starter is ready to play at his highest level is a job in an of itself.
Batch's age, and veteran minimum contract, though, will eventually land him off the roster. Tonight's game will be a big step toward answering the question of when, exactly, that will be.