Byron Leftwich knows no one is giving him much of a chance.
The Steelers are 0-4 against the Ravens without the injured Ben Roethlisberger, who is not going to play Sunday night because of a dislocated rib and sprained shoulder.
But the Steelers backup remains confident in his own abilities, as do the players around him.
“I know they’re saying, ‘Hey, man, they got a backup quarterback playing Sunday night against the Ravens’ and we understand nobody’s giving us a shot,” Leftwich said, via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s OK.”
While Roethlisberger is clearly their most important piece on offense, teammates are rallying behind Leftwich, with center Maurkice Pouncey saying: “I think we’ll do a great job with him. People are making this out to be bigger than it’s going to be.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Leftwich was “fully capable of running their whole package,” though there are significant differences.
First and foremost, what Leftwich lacks in mobility he makes up for in arm strength.
“Probably about 20-25 miles per hour,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said of the difference between Roethlisberger and Leftwich. “Byron’s ball comes out a lot faster. I like Byron’s ball. Ben has a nice soft touch on it, you just pluck out of the air and keep rolling. Byron, you definitely got to brace yourself because it’s coming.”
How well they’re able to adapt to the difference will determine whether the naysayers are right.