Batch Out, Palko Lives!

While Steeler Nation holds their collective breath awaiting the verdict on Ben Roethlisberger‘s head injury, yet more quarterbacking issues have cropped up for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Backup Charlie Batch somehow broke his wrist during his brief stint on Sunday. He’s undergoing surgery and is basically lost for the season. This is yet another unfortunate setback for Charlie, who broke his clavicle in a preseason game causing him to miss all of last year.  At 34 years of age, this may be the end of his days as an active player.  If so, I’m sure we’ll still see him patrolling the sidelines on Sunday in some coaching capacity.

In the meantime, the backup spot now falls to second year man Dennis Dixon. A fifth round draft pick out of Oregon in 2008, Dixon has completed one pass in his NFL career. Still, Dix is an amazing athlete who many thought would be a 1st round draft pick until he tore his ACL in the middle of his senior season. He made some incredible plays last preseason to where I was giddy over having Slash 2.0 on our hands.  Then this year he regressed, looking confused, erratic, and showing poor mechanics.

I guess that’s one way to get Bruce Arians to call more running plays.

Batch evidently isn’t being placed on IR, which would prevent him from coming back should the Steelers advance in the playoffs. It also means the team can’t add a third QB without cutting somebody from the active roster. So it seems they will be going with only two quarterbacks for the time being. This means if separate calamities should strike down both Ben and Dix, the man behind center for the Black and Gold will be none other than Hines Ward.

The Steelers will be signing a third QB to their practice squad.   Teams need three QBs because somebody has to lead the third stringers against the first team defense in practice.  You don’t want to waste time by having your top two QBs throwing balls right at Ike Taylor so he can perfect dropping sure interceptions.  The man charged with this difficult task will be familiar to Pittsburgh football fans.

Tyler Palko has returned.   Palko, a state champion at West Allegheny High, quarterbacked Pitt for three seasons.  While at the University of Pittsburgh, he beat out current Ratbirds star Joe Flacco for the starting job in The Stache’s first season.  Palko went undrafted but managed to hook on with the Saints in 2007 and spent most of the year on their  practice squad.  I didn’t care for Palko when he was here but I always like to see a local boy sign with the hometown team.  And to be fair, he did show flashes of brilliance although he was frustratingly inconsistent.

Finally, there’s still been no official word on Ben.  Speculation abounds that he’ll be cleared to play on Sunday night. We all know Ben thinks he’s Unbreakable but I hope the Steelers are wise enough to sit him down if there’s even the slightest hint of a lingering affect from this latest head injury. Between the motorcycle accident, Bill Cowher rushing him back that year to take a vicious beating, the 90-something sacks over the past three seasons, and now this “concussion oriented thing,” I fear his brain may be rapidly approaching the consistency of rice pudding.

Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of “As The Quarterback Turns…”

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