Pittsburgh’s OTAs basically picked up where they left off at the end of mini-camp. QB Byron Leftwich worked with the first team. It looks like the order thus far is Leftwich, Dixon, and then Batch. Charlie will have a career in Pittsburgh until he’s ready to retire, which in my estimates will take place at the end of this season or next. And Leftwich is seizing every opportunity he gets to show the coaches why he should open the season as the starter while Ben Roethlisberger serves his six-game (possibly four-game, pending appeal) suspension.
It would be interesting to see what kind of QB Ben has been grooming in Dennis Dixon, but Leftwich is the sound pick. Watching Dixon last year in the loss against Baltimore, however, was impressive. A Dixon INT to dumpy-looking D-Lineman Paul Kruger sets up 24 yard field goal with just under 7 minutes to play in OT. It sucked, but it was a stepping stone in Dixon’s career.
WAYNES WORLD INTERLUDE FLASHBACK…dudaloot dudaloot dudaloot dudaloot (hands and fingers in waving gesture from chest to thigh, then repeated). Oregon at Arizona, November 15, 2007…with an 8-1 run thus far that includes wins over PAC-10 powerhouses Arizona State and USC, the Ducks sit at number 2 in the polls with a chance at a national title. In the win over Arizona State, Dennis Dixon tears his ACL, but is cleared to play two weeks later on a Thursday night ESPN showcase at the University of Arizona. The Wildcats, at 4-6, are fighting for bowl eligibility and Oregon is a 10 ½ point favorite (as I remember quite well…$50 in the toilet). Dixon reinjures the ligament, a Duck’s National Championship and probable Heisman Trophy honors are gone. The Steelers take him in the third round and Dennis wins a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season as the back-up’s back-up’s back up.
FLASHFORWARD phone booth style with George Carlin. Dennis Dixon needs to prove himself in training camp. He can run and he has great size. If he can fine tune his throws this year the job is his. Leftwich is what he is…a tough kid with a lot of heart, and a colossal canon of an arm, but we need a guy who can make plays like Ben. No QB in this league means more to his team than Roethlisberger and I see Dixon as the only other QB on the depth chart who has the relatively close ability to fill those cleats. Time will tell, but if we do start the season on a losing note a la Byron Leftwich, look for Dennis Dixon to be warming up to Coach Tomlin on the sidelines.
For now, he needs to learn the offense and work with our receiving corps to discuss and execute favorite plays and tendencies; then get on board with the O-Line to take a look at shot-gun, drop backs, and play action; and finally, he has to prove to the coaches that he can play quarterback. He has the opportunity to engage an entire city for what could possibly be six weeks this fall. The pressure is on…