By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — For the second straight year, Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich was unable to finish the preseason.
Leftwich, who suffered a knee injury during the final preseason game last year, broke his left arm during the third quarter. He fell on the arm after a six-yard run and was taken out of the locker room on a stretcher after the game.
“Byron Leftwich broke his arm,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during his post-game press conference. “I don’t have any additional information in terms of the time that he’s going to be out, but I’m sure that it’s going to be an extended period of time.
“It just goes to show you that it’s good to have four NFL-capable quarterbacks in a training camp-like setting. We’ve kind of gone through this several times over the last few years, and it always has a way of working itself out. And it’s going to be a factor, of course, here moving forward.”
With Leftwich out of action, it appears that the Steelers quarterback situation has worked itself out once again, as Tomlin said. Ben Roethlisberger is the unquestioned starter, but the No. 2 will need to be determined between Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch. Dixon wouldn’t comment on his chances.
“I hope Byron gets a speedy recovery,” Dixon said. “He’s a great player, but I just have to keep moving forward from here. Being the competitor that I am, I want the competition out there. So, I’m looking forward to Carolina.
“It’s out of my hands, any decisions by the coaches, so all I can do is make the plays when I get the chance. So, I’m looking forward to Carolina next week.”
Dixon was 1-for-3 for 13 yards with no picks and no sacks. He also ran four times for nine yards, but had a long run for 10.
Tomlin said that center Maurkice Pouncey re-aggravated his left ankle, but “it shouldn’t be a major deal.” Tomlin noted that scar tissue from the old injury can break apart. It’s “very painful” and causes discomfort. But isn’t long-term.
Rookie defensive end turned tight end Miguel Chavis has a torn pectoral muscle, so his debut season likely is over. Nose tackle Casey Hampton had his right arm wrapped, but he appeared to be OK. And Keenan Lewis injured his left knee, but Tomlin did not believe it was anything serious. Lewis was limping around the locker room after the game.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious, but we’ll see after I get some tests on it,” Lewis said. “It’s just a little sore and swollen right now.”
Second-year pro Crezdon Butler replaced Lewis and had a pretty good game with a team-high nine solo tackles, two pass breakups and a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“The ball was right there, so I had to catch it,” Butler said. “I didn’t know I had that burst of speed at the end, to tell you the truth, but the end zone just seemed so far away. I saw Sly (Stevenson Sylvester) point to a guy, so I wanted to set that up for him to get that block on him. So, I appreciate that.”
Butler missed nearly the entire training camp with a hamstring and quad injury that set him back, but he has done pretty well so far in the past two preseason games. And if Lewis misses any appreciable time he’ll play even more.
“You really can’t control injuries, and I had one early,” Butler said. “But now I’m taking advantage of an opportunity created by an injury, so you never know. You always have to be ready to fill some big shoes around here. I don’t know what the coaches think, but I’m just going to do whatever I can to stay here.”
Still, Tomlin said that Bryant McFadden is still the starting cornerback opposite Ike Taylor. And William Gay likely will play in the slot in passing situations.
Note: The first cutdown date, from 90 to 75 players, is Tuesday. The final cutdown, from 75 to 53, is Saturday, Sept. 3.