With four quarterbacks in camp, and the third preseason game being largely dedicated to those who will either have a helmet on Sundays or are fighting for the chance to get one, QB Jerrod Johnson will likely not see the field when the Steelers take on Buffalo Saturday.
It will likely be handled by starter Ben Roethlisberger and back-up Byron Leftwich, possibly with a late appearance by Charlie Batch.
Does this mean Jerrod Johnson's fate has been sealed? Not necessarily.
Odds were long against him making the 53-man roster as a quarterback in the first place. The Steelers rarely keep a fourth quarterback on the practice squad, simply because there just isn't enough time and reps to get another quarterback any kind of significant work.
But does he have to be on the practice squad as a quarterback?
Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette appeared on Pro Football Talk Live with Mike Florio Thursday, and floated an interesting proposition. With Johnson's impending release, and intriguing athleticism still apparent, maybe the team would stash him on their practice squad as a tight end or a receiver, give him some work at a different position, thus maintaining his rights for next season, where he could come back again for another shot at a quarterback position.
Granted, unorthodox roster moves and the Pittsburgh Steelers are like oil and water, the main point is keeping a quarterback around the team to get to know and understand the offense. He may not get live snaps as a quarterback, but he can be around the other quarterbacks, the coaches and the rest of the team and absorb how the offense will ideally run.
The alternative is to release him and risk having him get picked up by another team. That doesn't seem very likely, as Bouchette points out to Florio, every year it seems there's a player the Steelers don't want to release because someone else will pick him up. It doesn't seem to happen very often.
Other teams in the league run into the same problem with fourth-string/practice squad quarterbacks simply not being in a position to get reps in practice, and Johnson wouldn't likely sign with the Steelers' practice squad to play a different position, even if it's more or less to better himself as a quarterback in the most realistic way possible at this point in the season.
The reality is, we'll likely see a lot of Johnson in the Steelers final preseason game, showcasing him for other teams to possibly pick him up, and ensuring the three quarterbacks the Steelers will keep won't get hurt.