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Steelers Position Battle Preview: Charlie Batch vs. Jerrod Johnson


It may not seem like much of a battle, but a team's third-string quarterback is a critically important piece of its game-day preparation. His job isn't just to prepare himself for the nightmarish scenario of both the starter and back-up getting hurt, it's to help prepare the starter and the back-up for the far more likely situation in which one of them is on the field.

Veteran Charlie Batch has been holding down that role for going on nine years in Pittsburgh, minus a few injury seasons. Very few, if any, players know the organization better than Batch does.

How much longer will he remain a Steelers quarterback? Does rookie Jerrod Johnson have the ability to do what so many have failed to do - knock Batch out of town - for so many years?

From Brian St. Pierre to Omar Jacobs to Dennis Dixon, all drafted Steelers quarterbacks, to players like Troy Smith and Johnson, free agents brought in and given a shot at Batch's job, none of them can match either the starting, back-up or third-string experience Batch has.

Is Johnson any different?

History says no. Regardless of Batch's age, his rapport with starter Ben Roethlisberger shouldn't be underestimated. Batch is watching film with Roethlisberger, back-up Byron Leftwich and the coaches each week. They're used to each other. It's hard to simply dismiss that, especially when Batch started a game in which the Steelers won as recently as Week 16 of 2011.

Johnson was hunted down much of his extensive audition in Philadelphia's 24-23 win over the Steelers last week. He was 3-for-6 passing, and his 93 yards were accentuated with a few nice deep throws and a big screen pass to RB Chris Rainey.

His arm strength was said to be an issue after shoulder surgery in college. He doesn't have a howitzer, and his accuracy isn't the greatest the league will see.

It's always good to get an eye on younger players the team may need to sign in the event of injury. As it is, Johnson may be a practice squad signing down the road, but it's highly unlikely he makes this team.