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mesaSteeler
05-01-2010, 11:05 PM
Ward believes in Steelers' young QB
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_679148.html#
By John Harris
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, May 2, 2010

Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward saw how the coaching staff designed plays to capitalize on quarterback Kordell Stewart's unique ability to create with his arm and his legs.

Ward doesn't know who's going to win the quarterback battle to replace Ben Roethlisberger, but he believes third-year signal caller Dennis Dixon, like Stewart, can spread the field and keep defenses off-balance with his unique versatility.

"If he gets outside the pocket, he's more of a threat than anybody on our team,'' Ward said of Dixon, who is sharing reps with Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch during this weekend's minicamp that concludes today at the Steelers practice facility. "He's just as fast and explosive as a lot of defensive backs that probably wouldn't know how to attack him because they're not used to defending somebody like that.''

Ward, a third-round draft pick in 1998, joined the Steelers a year after Stewart, in his first season as a starter, led the Steelers to an 11-5 record and the AFC Championship Game.

Stewart enjoyed a career season in 2001, passing for more than 3,000 yards with 14 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns while earning a Pro Bowl berth. The Steelers, the top seed in the playoffs with a 13-3 record, lost to New England in the AFC Championship Game.

Asked if Dixon, a fifth-round draft pick, reminds him of Stewart, Ward replied: "He does. You take a Vince Young, and you see the type of season he had toward the end of last year (with the Tennessee Titans), and Dixon is really hitting all those molds.

"If he gets another opportunity, guys are going to compete for him.''

In his only NFL start against Baltimore last season, Dixon displayed flashes of his playmaking ability as a passer and runner.

Dixon tossed a 33-yard touchdown strike to Santonio Holmes that tied the score 7-7 in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Dixon scored easily on a 24-yard sprint, reaching the end zone untouched against a host of surprised defenders.

Dixon would like to incorporate more runs as he finds his comfort zone in the offense. Against Baltimore, however, Dixon tried to play within himself as offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called a simple game plan.

"Seeing that was my first start, I wanted to put my team in the best situation,'' Dixon said. "As things go along, yes, I want to go all out.''

Unfortunately, Dixon also displayed his inexperience late in that contest, throwing a third-down interception that led to the clinching field goal in Baltimore's 20-17 overtime win.

"The interception, the last-minute mistake, we can't fault him for that,'' Ward said. "He saw something he tried to take advantage of.''

Dixon received his first start as a late replacement for Roethlisberger, who was sidelined with a concussion. Dixon now has plenty of competition to become the starter as Roethlisberger is scheduled to miss as many as six games because of a suspension.

It appears to be a showdown between Leftwich, who continues to take snaps with the first-team offense, and Dixon, who is directing the second-team offense during this minicamp.

"I wouldn't say anyone is solidified as No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3,'' Dixon said. "We're getting quality reps between all three of us and (making) the most of it.''

Said Ward: "Whoever they decide to be the starter, we'll move forward from there.''

Ward said he believes in Dixon.

"He won over a lot of guys,'' Ward said. "You get named the starting quarterback the day before the game, going down to the lion's den in Baltimore - it's not an easy task for any quarterback. He held his own.

"We couldn't run certain plays because he didn't get all the proper reps he needed throughout the week - he only got 30 percent of the plays. That was the frustration with a lot of guys. Considering the circumstances, Dennis played his tail off.

"And he's getting better and better.''

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

Rick5895
05-02-2010, 05:58 AM
IMO, this kind of shows why Dixon should start. Give him a whole camp at the #1 QB he will take us to 3-1 or 4-0.

AllD
05-02-2010, 06:42 AM
You must let them compete in practice for it. An interview with Ward should not make anybody jump the gun. It could be Tomlin's plan to make Dixon sharper in his reads. He probably prefers Dixon starting, but does not want to annoint him, but make him improve to earn it.

Don't expect this to play out into the mess that was Cleveland between Anderson and Quinn.

SMR
05-02-2010, 07:42 AM
You must let them compete in practice for it. An interview with Ward should not make anybody jump the gun. It could be Tomlin's plan to make Dixon sharper in his reads. He probably prefers Dixon starting, but does not want to annoint him, but make him improve to earn it.

Don't expect this to play out into the mess that was Cleveland between Anderson and Quinn.

I concur.

Davison_K
05-02-2010, 11:24 AM
Don't expect this to play out into the mess that was Cleveland between Anderson and Quinn.

That is exactly what I don't want. Competition is healthy, but I don't want it switching every week and going into the season with zero qbs who are ready to compete or perform.

I honestly want to see what Dixon has. I would love for him to start. I am excited for the preseason to see who will come out on top between Lefty and Dixon. I don't even think Batch is really in the running.

Does anyone think Batch will be off the roster at the start of the season, or are they going to keep 4 qbs after Ben gets back?

AndyWitmyer
05-02-2010, 03:54 PM
I just read somewhere that Leftwich was FOR SURE the starting QB now...

Psyychoward86
05-02-2010, 04:50 PM
I just read somewhere that Leftwich was FOR SURE the starting QB now...

nope

solardave
05-02-2010, 05:10 PM
Dixon will win the starting job for the suspension period.

Galax Steeler
05-03-2010, 04:15 AM
By all rights I think Dixon should get the start because he will be the man behind Ben for years. I think Leftwich will get the starting nod because of his experience. If Leftwich don't look sharp then he will be replace pretty quick.

Steelers>NFL
05-03-2010, 07:38 AM
Sounds like Ward would be ready to ride Dixon's arm/legs fulltime if given the chance.
Think he is tired BB childish and stupid act. I am just saying...

Third Rail
05-03-2010, 08:40 AM
Sounds like Ward would be ready to ride Dixon's arm/legs fulltime if given the chance.
Think he is tired BB childish and stupid act. I am just saying...

To be honest, I'm getting a little sick of Ward talking to the media. Everything he says lately seems like a thinly veiled knock on Ben. First, he says that the team will welcome Ben back, but calls the suspension "justified." Now, he's talking up the backup QB.

I guess I wouldn't be thinking too much of it, but after all that BS last year where he basically called Ben a candyass for not playing with a concussion, Ward has started to piss me off. Yes, he's one of the greatest Steelers ever, but I wouldn't mind if he kept his mouth shut once in a while.

Nadroj 20
05-03-2010, 08:55 AM
I just read somewhere that Leftwich was FOR SURE the starting QB now...

Do you have a link? Even if you do I don't believe it...no way there is a for sure starter this early

Steelers>NFL
05-03-2010, 09:03 AM
To be honest, I'm getting a little sick of Ward talking to the media. Everything he says lately seems like a thinly veiled knock on Ben. First, he says that the team will welcome Ben back, but calls the suspension "justified." Now, he's talking up the backup QB.

I guess I wouldn't be thinking too much of it, but after all that BS last year where he basically called Ben a candyass for not playing with a concussion, Ward has started to piss me off. Yes, he's one of the greatest Steelers ever, but I wouldn't mind if he kept his mouth shut once in a while.
Ward is the LEADER of the Steelers. His voice does count.

Third Rail
05-03-2010, 10:16 AM
He is A leader on the team - but he's not the only one. And even if he is, he's not going to be around forever. I'm concerned that if he is creating tension between himself and Ben, that could spread like a cancer in the locker room and affect the team as a whole... this season and for years to come.

I know that the Milledgeville incident has severely damaged Ben's rep (although I don't believe he did anything illegal and therefore, his suspension is undeserved), I think people constantly forget just how much of a leader he really is. Granted, he's not perfect, but when you look at his overall performance on the field, he's been committed and outstanding every year except the 8-8 season where he was recovering from the motorcycle injury. His 2007 numbers were incredible (unfortunately no one remembers that though because OMG Tom Brady threw 50 TDs wow who cares if he cheated), his 2008 numbers weren't as strong, but he won the Super Bowl and last season was his best ever, statistically. He also had to carry the team on his back for most of last season because the defense was awful against the pass and the running game, while better than 2008, still faced a lot of problems. His teammates voted him MVP for a reason.

So I'm not disagreeing that Ward is a leader... but he's not the ONLY leader, and the negative reaction he got from fans last year when he criticized Ben for not risking his long-term health in a football game was well-deserved.

pancake
05-03-2010, 01:15 PM
He is A leader on the team - but he's not the only one. And even if he is, he's not going to be around forever. I'm concerned that if he is creating tension between himself and Ben, that could spread like a cancer in the locker room and affect the team as a whole... this season and for years to come.

I know that the Milledgeville incident has severely damaged Ben's rep (although I don't believe he did anything illegal and therefore, his suspension is undeserved), I think people constantly forget just how much of a leader he really is. Granted, he's not perfect, but when you look at his overall performance on the field, he's been committed and outstanding every year except the 8-8 season where he was recovering from the motorcycle injury. His 2007 numbers were incredible (unfortunately no one remembers that though because OMG Tom Brady threw 50 TDs wow who cares if he cheated), his 2008 numbers weren't as strong, but he won the Super Bowl and last season was his best ever, statistically. He also had to carry the team on his back for most of last season because the defense was awful against the pass and the running game, while better than 2008, still faced a lot of problems. His teammates voted him MVP for a reason.

So I'm not disagreeing that Ward is a leader... but he's not the ONLY leader, and the negative reaction he got from fans last year when he criticized Ben for not risking his long-term health in a football game was well-deserved.

I do think Ward should stop talking bad about Ben to the media...

Third Rail
05-03-2010, 01:41 PM
Yeah, I mean... if he has an issue with him, then he should take it up with him directly. And even if Ben is completely innocent, I can understand his teammates being pissed at him for fooling around with this girl, due to all the negative attention the Steelers are getting. But considering the continued lashing Ben is taking from the media, the last thing he needs is his teammates saying anything even remotely negative about him to the press.