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Technically, Steelers have six quarterbacks

With starter Ben Roethlisberger still two games away from returning (and my fantasy team at NFL.com anxiously awaiting that moment), the Steelers have two healthy quarterbacks on the depth chart.

But, technically, they’ve got six quarterbacks on the roster.

Per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, coach Mike Tomlin pointed out Tuesday that, in addition to Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, the Steelers have the injured Dennis Dixon and three receivers who played quarterback in college — Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle, and Hines Ward.

Tomlin says that Randle El will be the emergency quarterback on Sunday in Tampa. 

Frankly, given the way the defense has been playing, kicker Jeff Reed could take the snaps and turn and hand the ball off and the Steelers would win more games than they’d lose.

Meanwhile, the manner in which the Steelers handled the Byron Leftwich situation last week has raised some eyebrows in league circles.  Though the 54-man roster trick, in which a vested veteran is cut to clear a roster spot at a position of greater need and then the veteran is re-signed the following week, has become an accepted practice despite the necessary use of a supposedly impermissible side agreement between the player and the team, Leftwich apparently was still injured when he was cut

And a player can’t be cut while injured, even if it’s a temporary injury.  The appropriate way to get a player with a temporary injury off the roster is to place him on “minor” injured reserve.  The problem with this approach, however, is that the player then can’t return to the team at any point over the balance of the season. 

It’s unlikely that the league will investigate the situation or take action against the Steelers for at a minimum spraining the rules.  But some of the folks who are conscientious about adhering to the letter and spirit of the rules (and, yes, there are a few) privately are objecting to what the Steelers have done.

Either way, Leftwich could be playing again for the Steelers on Sunday.

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28 Responses to “Technically, Steelers have six quarterbacks”
  1. Suitcasehead Golic says: Sep 22, 2010 9:35 AM

    The teams should be more worried about Lawrence Timmons, who has quickly become the best all around linebacker in the NFL..

  2. Michael K. says: Sep 22, 2010 9:39 AM

    This is not the first time the Steelers are allowed to “bend” the rules in their direction without a consequence. It’s the “Steeler Way”.

  3. clinteastwoodrules says: Sep 22, 2010 9:40 AM

    Who decides what is a “spraining” of the rules versus a violation of “the letter and spirit of the rules”? I guess it depends on who your team is, right Florio? Go Steelers! You’re with me, right Florio? We don’t worry ’bout no stinkin’ rules.

  4. T-Bone says: Sep 22, 2010 9:42 AM

    “Meanwhile, the manner in which the Steelers handled the Byron Leftwich situation last week has raised some eyebrows in league circles.”
    In league circles? really? or was it honestly with the 2 schmucks you happen to know that work with teams that wish they were something more than wannabes.
    Thats not a circle.

  5. melikefootball says: Sep 22, 2010 9:45 AM

    Is interesting that some want the rules followed by the letter–didn’t some coach cheat for a period of years? Don’t some coaches fudge on the injury report during the week? Point fingers as long as you aren’t the one playing with the rules–the American way.

  6. jediwrstlr says: Sep 22, 2010 9:45 AM

    WHO CARES, They used a LOOP HOLE…..it isn’t like they were video taping their opponents.

  7. blackbirdroadkill says: Sep 22, 2010 9:47 AM

    Many teams have done this over the past several seasons. Off the top of my head, the Patriots released Tully Banta-Cain for similar reasons and then re-signed him the following week. I’m not sure why this is an issue this now.

  8. Didier says: Sep 22, 2010 9:51 AM

    Leftwich was healthy enough to play against the Titans, but was cut to make room for an extra defensive player because of defensive injuries and the anticipated heat.
    Indeed, published articles speculated, prior to his being cut, that he might actually start against the Titans.
    Moreover, despite his injury, Leftwich was never placed on injured reserve.
    So, the Steelers violated no rule when they cut Leftwich for one-game when he was healthy enough to play and then re-signed him after the game.

  9. Nogard13 says: Sep 22, 2010 10:01 AM

    If Leftwich was healthy enough to play then there were no rules broken. It’s a thin line, but if the Steelers’ docs cleared him to play just before being released then they did NOTHING wrong.

  10. dietrich43 says: Sep 22, 2010 10:12 AM

    Is cutting Leftwich while hurt (and I think it’s more a case of him being hurt vs. injured) better or worse than tampering with a pending free agent? Is it better or worse than not reporting injuries – or reporting non-existent injuries? The NFL is like NASCAR, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

  11. superfan99 says: Sep 22, 2010 10:14 AM

    Leftwich was never ruled out for Week 2. Non-story.

  12. Tony Snow says: Sep 22, 2010 10:15 AM

    Leftwich? We talkin about Leftwich?
    – Allen Iverson

  13. WhoDeySood5 says: Sep 22, 2010 10:25 AM

    yeah cuz why would the league punish the steelers for BREAKING A RULE…..funk that- they fine players for breaking the smallest uniform rules violations, when an organization does something wrong YOU SHOULD HAVE TO DISCIPLINE THEM….isn’t that the point of having rules in place?!?!

  14. bigstorm says: Sep 22, 2010 10:32 AM

    Michael K….
    You are a moron. This cut/re-sign happens every week. Because its the Steelers “QB Controversy” item floating around it it gets some (but not much) press.
    Cheating is what your boyfriend is doing behind your back.

  15. ZombieRevolution says: Sep 22, 2010 10:38 AM

    “But some of the folks who are conscientious about adhering to the letter and spirit of the rules (and, yes, there are a few) privately are objecting to what the Steelers have done.”
    Of course you don’t mention who these people are- could be someone connected with a team—- or not. Another non-story story from PFT using sources they refuse to even alude to. Yeah- people believe every word that drips from this site.

  16. Maddog says: Sep 22, 2010 10:48 AM

    Looks like the Steelers apply the Rooney rule to their QB signings.

  17. Deb says: Sep 22, 2010 10:55 AM

    They’re shaking their heads about it in league circles? All those upstanding league types? I’d love to meet them.
    I’m reading “North Dallas Forty.” Picked up the anniversary edition at a used bookstore. Should be required reading for PFT commenters. Assume you’ve read it. Not much has changed.
    Tell me, Mike … were those same sticklers shaking their heads when our QB was suspended? A medical exam and DNA report showed he could not possibly have had intercourse with that woman, yet he became the first NFL player ever suspended without a single prior disciplinary action, without violation of any league rule, and without arrest or charge.
    Why, my goodness, the sticklers must have shaken their heads until they nearly detached at the neck!

  18. President Florio says: Sep 22, 2010 11:05 AM

    “Frankly, given the way the defense has been playing, Mike Florio could take the snaps and turn and hand the ball off and the Steelers would win more games than they’d lose.”
    Fixed

  19. andyprough says: Sep 22, 2010 11:19 AM

    6 Quarterbacks on the roster, including 3 former college qb’s playing WR, but still no Pat White signing? Come on Steelers – this could be your next Hall of Famer.

  20. ImAManIm40 says: Sep 22, 2010 11:42 AM

    “Technically” they have 3. “Practically”, they have 6.

  21. In & Out Burger says: Sep 22, 2010 12:24 PM

    You forgot your hero Jarret Brown on the practice squad. I assure everyone that if Arnez Battle gets behind center, it doesn’t matter how good that defense is, they won’t be on the field when the other team scores.

  22. RagingYinzer says: Sep 22, 2010 1:13 PM

    How can you say that Leftwich was still injured when he was released? Unless I’m mistaken, he was listed as “probable” on the injury report for the Titans game, which was issued before he was released on Saturday.
    You seem to be implying that the Steelers violated a rule because Tomlin referred to Leftwich’s injury with regards to determining who his starter will be vs. Tampa Bay. But whether or not a player is considered injured, for the purposes of the league rule, is NOT determined by whether a coach or other team official says he’s injured. It’s determined by the status of that player on official injury reports and the IR list. By those standards, Leftwich indeed was not “injured” when the Steelers released him.

  23. Steeler Fan in Germantown says: Sep 22, 2010 2:15 PM

    Yeah, we technically have 6 QBs and, when Ben returns, we’ll have 6 QBs and one low rent, perverted QB that should have been run out of town.
    Fellow Steeler fans…….he ain’t gonna change! Prepare for his next disgression. Only the next time, the Rooney’s will do what they should have done this time. They won’t let him shame the City, the Rooney name and the Steeler reputation again without paying dearly for it.
    I’d rather lose every game this season than see this dirt-bag return. He’s a phony.

  24. Matt says: Sep 22, 2010 2:41 PM

    (1) To anyone making comments about anything re: the the “6 QB” thing – Watch Tomlin’s press conference when this was brought up (it’s on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website). Although what he is saying is “technically” true, it was obvious (at least to me) that Tomlin was being sarcastic with reference to Battle and Ward playing QB. He’s smirking the entire time on the video. In other words, any reference to Battle or Ward being QB is pretty much intended to be nothing but humor, sans a disaster occurring or a trick play. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but there’s nothing more irritating than an obvious lack of context that changes the meaning of a story.
    (2) “Meanwhile, the manner in which the Steelers handled the Byron Leftwich situation last week has raised some eyebrows in league circles. … But some of the folks who are conscientious about adhering to the letter and spirit of the rules (and, yes, there are a few) privately are objecting to what the Steelers have done.”
    Who, Florio? Name your damn sources. Remember the last time you went around quoting people who didn’t name their sources? And then sat there ranting about Mike Wise for two days afterward? Name your sources, pal.

  25. andyprough says: Sep 22, 2010 3:23 PM

    @Matt – you are right that the context was sarcastic by Tomlin – but the rest of the NFL needs to take the basic premise seriously – you can build a winning team by including former qb’s in other skill positions on your football team. Ronnie Brown is an excellent example in Miami.
    There should be room for guys with true football skills on NFL rosters, even if they don’t fit perfectly into a nice little “box” description of the ideal NFL qb.

  26. Sixburg Girl says: Sep 22, 2010 3:38 PM

    T-bone said:
    “Meanwhile, the manner in which the Steelers handled the Byron Leftwich situation last week has raised some eyebrows in league circles.”
    In league circles? really? or was it honestly with the 2 schmucks you happen to know that work with teams that wish they were something more than wannabes.
    Thats not a circle.
    Right T-bone, it’s NOT a circle….it’s a ‘cluster’!

  27. Deb says: Sep 22, 2010 6:54 PM

    @Steeler Fan in Germantown …
    WOW, we’re all super impressed with your moralizing. Thanks for setting us straight. Of course, those of us who bothered to read the case files instead of TMZ know he didn’t assault anyone. And since the Rooneys sent their own investigators to Georgia, they know that, too, which is why they supported him instead of dumping him (you’re not too bright, are you?).
    That leaves acting like a jackass and drinking too much. Well, heaven knows no other Yinzers or Steelers have ever done that before! Good grief, get the tar and feathers!!!
    Hope you and the Browns will be very happy. We’ll throw some rice toward Cleveland.

  28. george says: Sep 22, 2010 9:53 PM

    Any fan that doesn’t know that personnel strategies such as this are commonplace in the NFL isn’t much of a fan. Or at least not a smart fan.
    As for our B&G QB situation, I’d pay to see Hines run a few plays at QB but know that won’t happen. He’s the key to most Steeler plays intended to gain yards down field. If there ever was a better QB turned WR in NFL history, I’d like to hear of one. While we’re at it, how about best blocking WR ever?
    So, I’m all for Antwaan as the third QB as long as they sprint him out of the pocket for his own good.
    I saw him in action as Indiana QB and was always impressed with his skills and courage.
    Eat your hearts out Steeler haters, we’re baack!!

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