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Steelers 2014 roster breakdown: Quarterbacks

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There's a battle among quarterbacks for the Steelers this season. Certainly not Ben Roethlisberger, but competition for the third string position should be intense.

Gregory Shamus

As Pittsburgh Steelers training camp is set to begin, Behind the Steel Curtain takes a look at each position battle and how players at those positions are expected to perform.

PITTSBURGH -- While the Steelers starting quarterback position is clearly set with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm of the offense for an 11th straight season, competition is stiff for the backup and No. 3 roles.

Last year's backup, Bruce Gradkowski, did not take a snap. That rust didn't get shaken during spring drills, as the ninth-year pro was erratic from start to finish. Gradkowski has been a solid backup and spot starter during his career with wins against his hometown Steelers, but he won't remain Roethlisberger's backup if he doesn't play much better during camp and the preseason.

Roethlisberger deserves a mention for his effort this past spring. He had 100-percent attendance, except for attending to a personal family matter, and he threw a lot of passes. Roethlisberger's work ethic has been unparalleled so far this year. He was around more often and put in more time with his receivers, even taking a younger group to California for offseason training sessions. This was a departure from past Roethlisberger performances in the spring and should have him on top of his game for camp.

The No. 3 quarterback from last season, now second-year pro Landry Jones -- the team's second fourth-round pick last year -- wasn't much better. But he was more consistent than Gradkowski. And the player expected to battle Jones for the third roster spot at quarterback, rookie Brendan Kay from Cincinnati, performed like a first-year player.

It would take a great deal for either to make an impact this season. However, if Jones' quarterback skills, such as pocket presence, recognition and reading defenses match his physical skills, such as his arm strength and athleticism, Jones could supplant Gradkowski as Roethlisberger's backup. But that might not occur until sometime during the regular season.

It's unlikely that the top three Steelers quarterback spots will change through training camp, and the club should enter the season with Roethlisberger, Gradkowski and Jones holding down the positions from one through three.

In any event, the Steelers offense could be its most potent in years with a healthy Roethlisberger at the controls, but like most NFL teams the club would suffer if its starting quarterback was lost for a considerable amount of time.