With Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich out with rib and shoulder injuries, the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying out Brian Hoyer and Mike Kafka Tuesday to find a backup quarterback for third-stringer-turned-starter Charlie Batch.
The Steelers aren't worried about Batch as a starter -- the 37-year-old has started seven games for the Steelers in his 10 years with the franchise, including a Week 16 win last season over the St. Louis Rams -- but they'll need at least one other quarterback on their roster in case something happens to Batch as well. That's where Hoyer and Kafka come in.
Hoyer, a fourth-year player who started three seasons for Michigan State, served as Tom Brady's backup on the New England Patriots for three seasons. Although he was undrafted in 2009, the team kept him on the roster instead of Kevin O'Connell, who had been selected in the third round just a season earlier. Over his three years with the team, he appeared in 13 games, going 27-for-42 with a touchdown and an interception. But last season, the team opted to move third-round pick Ryan Mallett into the backup role, and after training camp this season, the team opted to keep only two quarterbacks instead of three.
Kafka impressed scouts with his senior year at Northwestern, leading the Big Ten with 3,430 yards including a 532-yard, four-touchdown outing in his final career game in the Outback Bowl. That was enough to earn him a fourth-round selection in 2010 by the Philadelphia Eagles. In his rookie year, he saw no action behind Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb, but the third-stringer was forced into play in 2011, when both Vick and Vince Young suffered injuries in the team's Week 2 game against the Atlanta Falcons. He nearly lead a Philadelphia comeback, as he went 7-for-9 for 72 yards. He was less impressive the next week, tossing two picks on seven attempts, and hasn't played since. He entered this season as Vick's backup, but broke his non-throwing hand in his only preseason game and was eventually cut in favor of NIck Foles and Trent Edwards.
Neither player has ever started an NFL game, and neither will be likely to for the Steelers unless Batch is worse than expected or gets injured.