Dennis Dixon Named Steelers' Week 1 Starter At Quarterback

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Ben Roethlisberger Not Guaranteed To Be Steelers Starter When He Returns From Suspension

The Pittsburgh Steelers recently named Dennis Dixon their starting quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger serves his suspension, but could he keep the job once Roethlisberger returns?

According to an interview with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Sirius Radio, Roethlisberger isn’t guaranteed to be the team’s starter once he’s eligible to return.

When asked if Roethlisberger would regain his starting job upon his return, Tomlin told Sirius NFL Radio: “I’m going to dodge that one and not artfully,” according to USA Today. “I’m not going to back myself in a corner.”

There probably isn’t much need to read too far into these comments, but it is interesting that Tomlin wouldn’t clarify that Roethlisberger is definitely his starter.

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Dennis Dixon Named Steelers' Week 1 Starter

The Pittsburgh Steelers have decided on Dennis Dixon as their Week 1 starter, according to the NFL Network's Jason La Canfora.

Coach Mike Tomlin announces Dennis Dixon is Steelers Week 1 starter. Going with Batch would have really been a stretchless than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

With Byron Leftwich's recent injury and Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the season, the starting quarterback competition until Roethlisberger returned was between Dixon and the 35-year-old Charlie Batch.

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Steelers Thinking Batch?

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette is reporting that the Steelers are likely to start Charlie Batch at QB for the team's September 12 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. If this report holds true, then it will mark a bewildering end to one of the most unorthodox quarterback controversies in the history of the NFL.

Though Batch has been an incredibly reliable backup for the Steelers (3-1 as a starter), it seemed likely that he would be cut until Byron Leftwich sprained his MCL in Pittsburgh's preseason contest against the Carolina Panthers. In a matter of days, Batch has gone from a near certain roster casualty to the probable starter in the team's opener.

This is bad news for the young and talented Dennis Dixon, who is likely to be utilized only in situational packages. 

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NFL Reduces Ben Roethlisberger's Suspension To Four Games, Bryon Leftwich Out Indefinitely

After meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Friday morning, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received a reduced suspension of four games following a second consecutive offseason marred by rape allegations.

Here's Goodell in the league's official statement on the matter:

You have told me and the Steelers that you committed to making better decisions. Your actions over the past several months have been consistent with that promise, and you must continue to honor that commitment.

This means the star quarterback, who has looked pretty terrific on the field in preseason action, will return to the team following its Week 5 bye, when the Steelers take on the Cleveland Browns. 

In related news, Byron Leftwich, who sustained a knee injury in last night's preseason game, will likely miss the season opener, according to ESPN. The Tribune-Review is reporting that Leftwich is out indefinitely. It will be interesting to see how this new development affects the forthcoming roster cuts, as head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff trim the roster to its final form. 

I can't imagine Leftwich won't get cut at this point. The team could place him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but then he would have to sit out for the first six weeks of the regular season. The Steelers probably can't afford to use four roster spots on quarterbacks, and they can't go into the season with Antwaan Randle El as their backup. So the way I see it, Leftwich will get cut, Dennis Dixon will start, and Charlie Batch will back him up.

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Jon Gruden: Steelers Week 1 Starter Should Be Dennis Dixon

The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely find out Friday just how many games starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is going to miss due to suspension to begin the season, but the team has yet to name a starter to play Roethliserger’s minutes in the meantime.

If former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and current Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden had his say, he would place Dennis Dixon ahead of Byron Leftwich on the Steelers’ early-season depth chart.

“The Steelers are a team that really relies on Ben Roethlisberger’s improvisation,’’ Gruden said Wednesday during a Monday Night Football conference call which was transcribed by USA Today. "I’ve never seen a guy create more offense on his own. He gets out of some of the most incredible situations where he makes plays where they have him sacked twice and he still completes a pass.

“The guy who fits them the best right now, the guy I would go with is Dixon.’’

Even though Dixon hasn’t looked great in the preseason, Gruden believes that the quarterback could help the Steelers win games the way they won during Roethlisberger’s rookie season.

“All they have to do is win like they won in Ben’s rookie year, run the ball, play good defense — don’t turn it over and make some timely plays in the passing game,” Gruden says.

“Dixon has mobility, he’s been there in that system,’’ Gruden said. “I realize he threw a couple of interceptions against Denver … I just think his escapability, his ability to run for two first downs, create another two first downs scrambling out of trouble, checking it down, or finding a big play down the field gives him the edge over these other two quarterbacks.”

Between Dixon, Leftwich and Charlie Batch, the competition should remain interesting.

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Ben Roethlisberger To Ask For At Least Three-Game Reduction To Current Suspension

Ben Roethlisberger and Roger Goodell will meet Friday to discuss a reduction to the Steelers’ quarterback’s current six-game suspension.

While it was earlier reported that the suspension could be reduced to no less than four games, Roethlisberger plans to ask for “at least” a reduction of three games according to a report from ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

In Friday’s meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Ben Roethlisberger’s representatives plan to ask the commissioner to reduce the six-game suspension by at least three games, bringing along team president Arthur J. Rooney II to the New York meeting to support the quarterback’s case, sources with knowledge of upcoming proceedings told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

According to ESPN’s report, Rooney released a statement at the time of the suspension agreeing with and supporting the Goodell’s ruling. It’s not known what role Rooney will play during Friday’s meeting between the commissioner and Roethlisberger.

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