Baron Batch near the end of practice today broke out for a big gain, then came a loud pop from one of his knees. Batch called the trainers over immediately and could not put any weight on that leg. Troy Polamalu gave Batch a knowing pat on the shoulder as Batch left the field – Troy’s all too familiar with what might be in store for Batch. And just like that, Batch’s Cinderella Story ends.
Ever since Baron Batch was drafted by the Steelers, the media and fans have been drawn to this ‘unknown’ out of Texas Tech. He exuberates a human quality that transcends that of many average football players. Take a moment to read his blog and you are automatically drawn into rooting for this guy to succeed in well, hell, anything. He is the kind of person who most people think (well at least used to think as of late) of when the they think of a Pittsburgh Steeler. As soon as this lockout was lifted and the players reported to camp, this guy made an immediate impression on those watching.
Batch shined in the blocking drills, raising many eyebrows from those behind the orange fencing at the St. Vincent Campus. Tweet after tweet came out on how impressive he looked. He started to draw a lot of attention and started to make people like me forget about guys like Mwelde Moore needing to sign back with the Steelers. I was really starting to pull for this kid. I was excited at the prospects of him actually making it on the team. Not only to just make it, but to play a significant role on the roster as a special teams guy and third down back for the offense.
Batch tweeted this at around 6:30pm on Wednesday:
thanks for all the prayers. God is who he says he is and he will be glorified in every situation. He has never failed me and I wont doubt him now. I will praise him in the midst of adversity because this is when he allows growth.
Unfortunately, it seems as if his story has ended short for now. James Walker of ESPN has down played Batch’s injury a bit by saying that if he’s hurt he will get another shot once he gets healthy. Walker didn’t really think Batch had much of a shot – but I think he had a great chance to impress and make in onto the roster. I hope he’s right about Batch getting another shot at having his day. A ‘pop’ in the knee has never a good outcome, and Batch will more than likely be out for the rest of the season. If there was ever a feel good positive story to come out of the Steelers’ preseason and propel the team into a fortuitous 2011 season, it ended on the field today when Baron Batch hit the turf.
I really think that this will change the dynamics of the running back squad immensely. I felt that Batch had the potential to surpass not only Moore, but soon contend against Redman as Mendenhall’s relief man. If Batch is shelved for the season, it’s certain that the depth chart will stay as it was last season – which isn’t necessarily bad but isn’t necessarily good either. The team certainly needed a shot in the arm in the backfield on third downs. Batch seemed to be the dose of blocking and speed the offense was craving on third down.
That’s why this injury is pretty painful to take – it will hurt the team and hurt the fans rooting for this guy to succeed. May your recovery be a speedy one and a complete one, Baron Batch. This Steelers fan was hoping you would have had your day on the field. I’m hoping you still do.