President Obama made the mistake of picking up a political hot potato this week when he commented on the Ground Zero mosque controversy. On a Pittsburgh level, thatâ€™s minor compared to the dangerous waters Hines Ward tried to navigate Monday afternoon.
Thatâ€™s when the Steelers veteran wide receiver endorsed the idea of giving more first team action to back up quarterback Dennis Dixon.
Consider this can of worms wide open now.
Actually the worms started to sneak out from the rain soaked Heinz Field turf Saturday night. Most Steeler fans and some media members were clamoring for an open quarterback competition following Dixonâ€™s performance against the Lions during that game.
He threw for 128 yards and a touchdown to go along with a 6-of-7 night and a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He ran for another 31 yards and almost scored another touchdown en route to Pittsburghâ€™s 23-7 victory overt Detroit in the preseason opener.
Furthermore, Byron Leftwich (the presumed starter at quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger is suspended) was a pedestrian 6-of-10 and he looked every bit of the pocket statue we knew him to be behind a leaky Steeler offensive line.
Keep in mind, Dixon worked against mainly the second team Detroit defense. And Dixon has rarely had a shot with first team Steeler teammates on either side of the ball during training camp.
So if you take those kinds of performances and stir them together in a quarterback cauldron like Pittsburgh, Pa. you are sure to get a recipe for a full blown quarterback controversy. Add Hines Wardâ€™s remarks from Monday, and now youâ€™ve got a stew that is particularly spicy.
â€śIf Dennis is out there, youâ€™d like to get him some more playing time,â€ť said Ward. â€śConsider the game he had in Baltimore (last year when Roethlisberger was ruled out due to injury late in the week). He practiced a little bit. But there were some things we couldnâ€™t run because he didnâ€™t know all the plays. So I would like to get some more reps with Dennis.â€ť
Thatâ€™s been contrary to coach Mike Tomlinâ€™s approach so far in camp. Tomlin has preferred to use starting offensive players such as Ward on the field with Leftwich and Roethlisberger a vast majority of the time. But Ward says he sees potential benefits to getting more reps for Dixon under center with the first team.
"He just brings an added dimension to the game that Byron doesnâ€™t. Byronâ€™s just one of those guysâ€¦heâ€™s a pure pocket guy. The only knock on Dennis is he doesnâ€™t have the experience.â€ť
When I pressed Ward and asked him if Dixon has the experience to start game one of this season if needed, Ward responded...