09-01-2010, 02:47 PM
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Batch fighting for spot on Steelers' 53-man roster
By Mark Kaboly, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Ben Roethlisberger will be behind center once his suspension is over — the Steelers know that much. They also know that either Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon will fill in for him during the interim.
But who hasn't really figured into the quarterback derby just might be the guy who is the most qualified - Charlie Batch.
Batch has shown that he has been able to shine when called on for spot starts, and he proved against Denver on Sunday that he isn't quite ready to be put out to pasture.
"And he is really not getting that much opportunity," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "The opportunity he has gotten, he has taken full advantage of it. When Charlie gets out on the field, we know what to expect from Charlie."
Batch was nearly flawless Sunday. He went 3 of 4 for 44 yards and a touchdown, with his lone blemish occurring when rookie Emmanuel Sanders ran the wrong route and Batch's subsequent interception was returned for a touchdown.
Batch has the highest quarterback rating (95.1) among the four, but he has only 17 snaps in three preseason games.
"I am always confident," Batch said. "I feel that if my number is called and if I have to step in and play, I will be willing to do that."
What has been even more impressive with Batch that he has had only a fraction of the number of reps in training camp as the other three quarterbacks - a third fewer, to be exact - and not a single snap with the second team, let alone the first team.
"I have always prepared as if I am a starter," Batch said. "You have to prepare that way. The only difference is the physical reps that you get throughout practice. Those things are out of my control. Regardless of how many practice reps you get, when your number is called you better be able to execute."
Batch didn't know if he was going to play in Denver because he didn't play the week before against the Giants and took only six snaps in the opener against the Lions.
"You don't get many reps, then all of a sudden your number is called and you better be ready to go," Batch said. "I am more prepared that way than the other guys because I have been doing it so long."
Batch has shown that he can be counted on at a moment's notice.
He led the Steelers to wins against Green Bay and Cleveland during their Super Bowl XL season. and an opening day victory a year later against Miami. Batch also passed for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta a few weeks later, when he replaced an injured Roethlisberger right before halftime.
"If he is given that opportunity, I feel comfortable he can go out there and get the job done," Ward said
Even so, Batch appears to be the odd man out of not only the derby to replace Roethlisberger, but perhaps a roster spot as well.
The Steelers need to cut 22 players by the weekend, and keeping an injury-prone 35-year-old fourth quarterback on the roster at the expense of a youngster would be hard to fathom.
"When you get our age, you understand the business," Ward said. "Charlie understands the business. He's a true professional.
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