This was posted earlier today on the USA Today page...

[HIGH-LIGHT]Pittsburgh Steelers Team Report[/HIGH-LIGHT]

The Steelers might have a quarterback controversy brewing that does not involve Ben Roethlisberger's absence for at least the first four games of the season.

Coach Mike Tomlin had said he would have his game one starting quarterback picked when Pittsburgh opened training camp July 30 because he wanted to get one ready to start the season and not have a competition throughout camp.

Dennis Dixon, however, may force his hand. Dixon had a perfect first preseason game, at least in his passer rating (158.3) by completing six of seven passes for 128 yards and one touchdown while working with the second and third teams in a 23-7 victory against the Detroit Lions at Heinz Field Saturday night. He also ran six times for 31 yards, including a touchdown that was overturned by replay when his knee hit the half-yard line. Nevertheless, his running and passing in that game was hard to overlook, as have been his first two weeks of practices in camp.

"I thought he did a nice job," Tomlin said. "He moved the offense relatively well. I liked his composure and it was a good start for him."

Leftwich, working four series with the first team, directed the Steelers on one long field-goal drive against the Lions. He completed six of 10 passes for 43 yards and did not look comfortable.

"We weren't clicking very well," Leftwich said. "That happens in the first preseason game. Good thing we got three more."

What Tomlin does at his quarterback position over the next three games should again be fascinating. He decided not to play Roethlisberger in the opener, at home, because he said there weren't enough snaps with the first team to split it between him and Leftwich. He did not want Roethlisberger playing with the second team and he wanted to see Leftwich with the first team.

"Dennis Dixon is a young guy. We wanted to provide him a lot of snaps," Tomlin said. "Based on that framework we thought it was the appropriate thing to do (against Detroit) in a limited number of snaps that would be available with the first group. We thought that it would be better time served if we used Byron in those instances.

"Ben is going to have opportunities to play in the preseason. But with the number of snaps that we anticipated the first offense running (against the Lions), it just wasn't appropriate to play him. He wanted to play. He's had an awesome training camp thus far. We're going to continue what we set out to do in that this guy is going to have a productive camp and preseason. And we're going to get the clarity from other men we're looking for."

The Steelers are on the road for the next two games, at the New York Giants and Denver Broncos, before finishing up at home with the Carolina Panthers. Roethlisberger is almost sure to play in the next two games, but what about Leftwich and Dixon? As Leftwich himself said, he needs more work. And the Steelers have a real opportunity to see if Dixon can maintain the kind of performance he displayed in the first game.

CAMP CALENDAR: The Steelers enter final days at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa. They have three more practices open to the public, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and finish with a morning practice Thursday. They leave camp for good Friday morning when they fly to New York to play the Giants.


—A Steelers defensive back intercepted a pass in the first quarter of the first preseason game, but once again it was not a cornerback.

Safety Ryan Clark did the honors. Steelers cornerbacks did not have an interception last season until the final game in Miami, when they nabbed two. It's been a point of emphasis during this training camp that's been marked again by a lack of interceptions in practices.

"I'd like to see a few more hands on the ball," said Ray Horton, who coaches their secondary. "We're getting hands on the ball but we're not bringing them in right now."

The competition is fierce at cornerback with only Ike Taylor assured of his starting job on the right side, or whatever side the opponent's best receiver lines up. Bryant McFadden is back and started the preseason opener at left cornerback but that job is not secured. Any number of other players could still win it, including 2009 starter William Gay and second-year players Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett.

Lewis and Burnett have had good camps and both looked good knocking down passes in the end zone against the Lions, although Lewis ultimately was beaten on a 2-yard TD pass by Calvin Johnson.

"I think they're on pace where they should be right now," Horton said, "but I'm a little disappointed somebody hasn't stepped up and said, 'Shoot, there's a lot of competition around here, let me show them that I'm the guy.'"

McFadden did not have a good season last year in Arizona after leaving the Steelers as a UFA, only to return in a draft-day trade this year. Gay, who shared the starting job with McFadden during their 2008 Super Bowl season, did not have a good 2009 either with the Steelers. Lewis and Burnett had outstanding rookie camps but weren't deemed ready last season. Perhaps that could change.

There's also one other player in the mix, although not pushing to start at the moment. Rookie Crezdon Butler, a fifth-round pick, has come on so quickly that he is playing cornerback, nickel and safety.

"He can do anything we ask him to," Horton said. "He's going to get exposure."

Overall, they need those corners to chip in with some interceptions this season as well. They lost at least one game last season when Burnett, by himself in the open, dropped an Oakland pass that hit him squarely in the belly. They missed the playoffs by one game at 9-7.

"The rules are made for quarterbacks to throw a lot," Horton noted. "Interceptions were down last year, the rules changes helped those guys. But for us it's a point of emphasis. When I look at our guys, we don't have that marquee deal where we get a lot of turnovers. We don't give up a lot of big plays, we don't give up a lot of yards, we're in close games. Everything is there but turnovers."

—The Steelers and Lions honored new Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau in a ceremony before Saturday night's game in Pittsburgh. LeBeau, the former Detroit cornerback and longtime Steelers defensive coordinator, walked to the middle of the field as the entire rosters of the Steelers and Lions lined up on each side.

LeBeau honored many of his current players during his Hall of Fame speech in Canton, including NT Casey Hampton.

"He coached a lot of players and for him to mention my name in his induction speech, that's real special," Hampton said. "He can talk about a whole lot of people, players he played with and players he coached. For me to be one of them was special."

—RB coach Kirby Wilson on starter Rashard Mendenhall, who topped 1,100 yards last season: "I think if he continues on the path that he's on right now he's going to have one heck of a year."

Mendenhall did not get off to a good start Saturday, carrying five times for two yards, and fumbling once.

—LB James Harrison said he has not finished his own biography that was published last year.

"I lived it, I don't need to read it," Harrison said

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I took a picture of Coach LeBeau and that little statue of his head." — WR Hines Ward, securing a memento of Dick LeBeau's induction into Canton.


The Steelers signed two more players the past week. They placed LB Andre Frazier on injured reserve (foot) and signed LB Brandon Renkart to replace him. They also waived injured S Tuff Harris (shoulder) and re-signed S Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith.


—RB Rashard Mendenhall, who has had trouble hanging onto the football in the past, fumbled on the first series of the first preseason game. Teammate Flozell Adams recovered but Mendenhall was replaced by Mewelde Moore for the second series.

—RB Frank Summers played almost exclusively at fullback in the first game and had no carries.

—Rookie ILB Stevenson Sylvester, trying to convince the Steelers to keep nine linebackers, led them in the opener with seven tackles.

—OT Flozell Adams did not have a good start. He was beaten twice, once for a sack.

—WR Arnaz Battle had a nice debut with the Steelers after signing as a UFA. He caught a 51-yard pass as he continues to make his pitch to become the No. 3 or No. 4 receiver.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Rookie Maurkice Pouncey made his move at center this week to challenge starter Justin Hartwig. Pouncey replaced Hartwig at center in Saturday night's game and performed well, then moved to guard later. He was supposed to compete with Trai Essex at RG but center now — and not later — could be within his grasp.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: No one seems to be surfacing as the starting LCB, where Bryant McFadden is No. 1 for now.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: RB Isaac Redman rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries in the first preseason game, including a twisting 31-yard run in which he broke three tackles. This comes after his success in two separate live drills in camp, short yardage and goal line.

ROOKIE REPORT: LB Jason Worilds did not play in the first game because of a lingering hamstring injury ... WR Antonio Brown was electric in his debut with a 68-yard TD catch on a short pass to go with two other receptions ... OLB Thaddeus Gibson, who has played strictly on the right, played on the left in the first game because of injuries ... ILB Stevenson Sylvester led the team with seven tackles in the first game ... CB Crezdon Butler has been a hit of camp and playing three different positions, including nickel and safety ... RB Jonathan Dwyer hurt his shoulder in the first game.

INJURY REPORT: LB Jason Worilds (hamstring) may return to practice Monday but was withheld from Saturday's game because he has not practiced ... RB Jonathan Dwyer came out of Saturday's game with some sort of shoulder injury.