PITTSBURGH — Free-agent quarterback Michael Vick talked with the Pittsburgh Steelers Tuesday about their backup quarterback position that opened when veteran Bruce Gradkowski dislocated a finger in his left hand Sunday during the preseason game with the Green Bay Packers.
Gradkowski had surgery this week to repair the damage and could miss up to a month. The only other quarterback on the roster is third-year pro Landry Jones, who has been the No. 3 quarterback the past two seasons since the Steelers selected him from Oklahoma in the fourth round during the 2013 NFL Draft.
“I don’t really know him, but he’s a great football player,” Ben Roethlisberger said. “(And) it’s undeniable the freakish athlete that he is and quarterback and especially in Atlanta and the things that he did. I know there’s a lot of kids growing up who wanted to be Michael Vick, because he was (an) exciting football player.”
Roethlisberger has a foundation that supports police and fire departments with an emphasis on providing K-9 units and service dogs. The foundation Web site has the quarterback posing with each arm around a dog. Vick was convicted and spent 23 months in federal prison for animal abuse and dog fighting. Roethlisberger didn’t appear to have any issues with Vick.
“This is a locker room, and it’s about football,” Roethlisberger added. “And that’s what matters most to me. … It’s about football, and that’s what this locker room’s about.”
The Big Legursky
The Steelers re-signed free agent offensive lineman Doug Legursky Tuesday to compete with Cody Wallace for the starting center position left vacant after Maurkice Pouncey’s long-term injury. Pouncey had surgery Monday to repair a broken bone above his left ankle. He could be out some two months.
“The shoes that they’re trying to fill are really big shoes, and that’s not easy to do,” Roethlisberger said. “(But) they know that, (and) we have confidence that those guys will step up and play good football and help carry the load.”
Legursky spent the first four seasons of his career with the Steelers from 2009-12 He spent the 2013 season in Buffalo and last year with the San Diego Chargers. He will wear No. 56 with the Steelers.
“It’s like a homecoming here for me,” Legursky said. “There’s a lot of new faces, but there still is a level of familiarity that I’m sure both sides can appreciate. I made my home here, just up north, so it’s nice to have a nice car ride to the facility instead of getting on flights to get to new teams like I did the past couple of years.”
Legursky added that as soon as Pouncey was injured, his phone “blew up,” and “my wife was excited just to get me out of the house.”
Legursky has been working out at home for just this situation and couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. He is somewhat familiar with the Steelers offense and still has some friends on the team, like Ramon Foster. The club’s starting left guard said that Pouncey is in good spirits and believed the All-Pro center would work hard to return at some point this season.
“We text, and you can’t get the feel for his emotions from that,” Foster added. “But he used a lot of LOLs and stuff like that. No emoticons, though. He might not like that. He’s supposed to go home today. (Legursky), he’s a familiar face, and he has experience. Whether it’s guard or center, experience is the key.”
Wallace and Fernando Velasco, who started 11 games at center for the Steelers when Pouncey missed the entire 2013 season, were unfamiliar with the offense. Wallace is extremely familiar now, and Legursky has some knowledge.
“Things went pretty well for me in San Diego, until I got hurt, but I’m healthy now and ready to go,” Legursky said. “You can do as much running and working out as you want, but nothing compares to going against an NFL defense. So, I’m excited to get back in here with two weeks before the regular season to get back into football shape.
“I played in this town for a lot of years, before I ventured elsewhere, and I’m glad to be back in black and gold. I’m just here to do my job and do whatever they ask of me. I’ve been a starter here and I’ve been a backup, and I’m ready to step in to do whatever they need me to do.”
A Coke And A FrownWant the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"