*** Dennis Dixon’s days as a No. 3 quarterback may be over. His performance in the 20-17 overtime loss in Baltimore was so impressive that Charlie Batch’s run as the backup QB may be over.
“We’re so proud of the way Dennis played,” Roethlisberger said. “He played with the fire and intensity we’ve seen from him in practice every day. He played his heart out. The Ravens found out what we’ve known all along. He’s a very good quarterback.”
Up until last week, Dixon had been a No. 3 quarterback since his arrival in Pittsburgh as a fifth round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
But he started against the Ravens due to Roethlisberger’s concussion and Batch’s broken wrist (both were hurt in the Nov. 22 loss in Kansas City).
“I embraced it,” said Dixon, who completed 12 of 26 passes for 145 yards, one touchdown and an interception. “I always love challenges, and that was a big stage. I just wanted to take it one snap at a time.”
“I liked his demeanor throughout it all,” said coach Mike Tomlin, who said he may try to find ways to get Dixon more playing time in the final five games of the regular season. “He made some plays. I thought he represented himself relatively well.”
Dixon’s valiant effort, however, ended on a sour note when he threw an interception in overtime that set up the Ravens’ game-winning field goal.
*** It appears that Chris Kemoeatu will play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders (3-8). After missing the Ravens game with a sprained knee, he was back at practice Wednesday as a full participant.
So was Roethlisberger
“Feeling great,” Rothlisberger said. “All the headaches are gone.”
Five Steelers didn’t practice Wednesday.
Safety Troy Polamalu is still recovering from a sprained knee and isn’t expected to play against the Raiders. He’s also already missed six games this season.
Defensive end Travis Kirschke also missed practice, but only as a precaution. After missing three games with a torn calf muscle, Kirschke started against the Ravens.
Batch is still out with a broken wrist.
Ward and linebacker James Farrior aren’t hurt. They usually don’t practice on Wednesday’s because they’re veterans who are 33 and 34 years old, respectively.
*** With Kemoeatu due back, Ramon Foster is back as a backup offensive lineman. But the undrafted rookie out of Tennessee says he’ll never forget his first pro start.
“I was actually calm until it was time to go on the field,” said Foster, who started at left guard in place of Kemoeatu. “The first few plays, I was nervous as heck. After that, I calmed down and got into the swing of things.
“Yes, it was intense. I mean, we were playing the Baltimore Ravens, in Baltimore. It was loud. The ground felt like it was trembling a little bit. But it was a good experience. I just wish we would have won.”
Tomlin described Foster’s performance as “above the line.”