Originally posted on Blitzburgh Blog  |  Last updated 11/15/12
Everybody panic, the season is over. Ben Roethlisberger is hurt and no one has any idea how long it will take him to heal. Considering he could die if he plays football in the near future, the Steelers will dive into the heart of the NFL season with Gary Coleman Byron Leftwich at quarterback. Pretty much nobody is confident in Leftwich at this point in his career, and not unjustly so. Leftwich seems to go on IR if he so much as gets shampoo in his eyes, a reputation that he made sure to remind everyone of when he was slow to get up after one play against Kansas City. But what is it that Leftwich still brings to the table? Leftwich is the kind of guy who has to prove he still belongs in the NFL. Guess what: This is his chance. Let's not forget, Leftwich isn't some scrub the Steelers just picked up off the street. While the Eagles and 49ers are turning to the inexperienced Nick Foles and Colin Kaepernick, respectively, the Steelers and Bears have the luxury of backup quarterbacks who have been full-time starters and won games in the NFL (the Bears employ Jason Campbell. In related news, you just thought to yourself "oh yeah I forgot about Jason Campbell").Leftwich had a steep fall from grace, beginning his career as the 7th overall pick in 2003, starting a handful of seasons, and ultimately losing his job to David Garrard. Leftwich had a very forgettable stint with the Atlanta Falcons, as they scraped together anyone that could take a snap in the wake of Michael Vick going to prison. An ankle sprain ended Leftwich's season and Joey Harrington claimed the Falcons' starting job. After that, Leftwich joined the Steelers to replace the injured Charlie Batch as backup QB. He played well in the handful of games in which he appeared that season, ending with a Superbowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals.Inspired by his performance with the Steelers in 2008, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Leftwich a shot to be their starting quarterback. The abysmal Bucs started the season 0-3, and Leftwich was relegated to the bench in favor of Josh Johnson, who would ultimately lose his job in the NFL to Josh Freeman.In what was becoming a familiar refrain, Leftwich was placed on IR and his 2009 season was over. He was traded back to Pittsburgh for a 7th-round draft pick the following offseason. As Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games of 2010, Leftwich was the starter by default until injuring his knee in the preseason finale. Dennis Dixon stepped in and promptly got hurt, opening the door for Charlie Batch to hold down the fort until Ben came back. Leftwich made his way back onto the roster and appeared in one more game, ending the season healthy.Leftwich missed all of 2011 with a broken arm he suffered in the preseason.Now, in 2012, the Steelers will turn to Leftwich again. When healthy, he has played well for the Steelers, but health is the obvious concern with a player like him. As stated above, Leftwich needs to prove that he still belongs in the NFL, and there may be no better way to do that than to keep the Steelers afloat over the tough second half of a season. He's 32 years old, so he'll likely never take over a full-time starting position, but he could still prove himself a useful player in this league.Of course, with two matchups against the Baltimore Ravens on the schedule, Leftwich could just as easily be knocked out of a game by Terrell Suggs or Haloti Ngata. If and when that happens, we can always turn to Old Faithful. Never worry. Charlie Batch will always be here for us/
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