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Roethlisberger among four team captains

By Scott Brown
Tuesday, September 2, 2008

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While a vote by the players offered more proof that the Steelers have become quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's team, Charlie Batch has admittedly wondered if there is still a place for him on the team.

The Steelers placed Batch, a reliable backup quarterback, on injured reserve last Saturday. Batch, 33, is in the final year of his contract and the Hometead native acknowledged there is a chance he has played his last game as a Steeler.

"You always have to have that concern when you go on IR going into your last year," said Batch, who is recovering from a broken collarbone. "That's six, seven months away as far as that decision having to be made. If I come back and prove to them I am healthy I don't think that will be a concern."

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The injury Batch suffered in an Aug. 8 game against the Eagles -- and the uncertainty of when doctors would clear him to return to action -- left the 11th-year veteran as the odd man out among the Steelers' quarterbacks.

Roethlisberger, who was voted a captain Monday by his teammates for the first time in his career, is entrenched as the starter. The Steelers, meanwhile, went with Byron Leftwich, who signed with the Steelers following Batch's injury, as Roethlisberger's backup.

Promising rookie Dennis Dixon will serve as the No. 3 quarterback.

Batch said it was "frustrating" to get placed on injured reserve, which ended his season, but he said he understood why the Steelers did it.

Had they tried to hold a spot on the 53-man roster for Batch, the Steelers would have had to cut either Leftwich or Dixon. They decided they couldn't risk going with the inexperienced Dixon as Roethlisberger's backup while Batch recovered from his injury. They didn't want to risk losing Dixon either by cutting the fifth-round draft pick and trying sign him to their practice squad,

"When you looked back at the scenarios I was faced with and the team was faced this is probably the only scenario we possibly can do," Batch said.

Leftwich helped make the decision for the Steelers by picking up the offense quickly and playing well in three preseason games.

He admittedly is still learning a terminology that is different from what he had grown accustomed to in the four seasons he spent with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I try to explain it to people it's like speaking to someone whose speaking Spanish," said Leftwich, who is only signed through this season. "If you speak English and the guy's speaking Spanish you don't understand what he is saying unless you understand Spanish. That's what it is. I'm trying to learn Spanish right now."

Batch will serve as a translator, one of the many roles he would not have been able to fill had the Steelers waived him after reaching an injury settlement. The Steelers could have done that (with the idea that they would re-sign him once he was fully healthy) but Batch would not have been allowed to work out or do anything else at the team's practice facility.

By putting him on injured reserve, the Steelers ensured that Batch, one of the most respected players in the locker room, will remain involved with the team.

"I'll be sitting in the meeting rooms and going through a normal work week with the exception of going out there and practice and go out there and play," Batch said. "That's going to be the frustrating part. How am I going to be able to handle it when I'm completely healthy and I can't go onto the practice field?"

Scott Brown can be reached at or 412-481-5432.
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Aye, aye captain(s)

Four players were named team captains Monday, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Captains were selected based on a player's vote taken yesterday morning.

"I've always tried to be a leader on this team," said Roethlisberger, a first-time captain. "It's another step forward."

Here are the other Steelers captains for this season:

� Hines Ward. The wide receiver will serve with Roethlisberger as a co-captain of the offense. This is the fourth consecutive year that Ward's teammates have voted him a captain.

� James Farror. For the fifth time in his seven years with the team Farrior will captain the defense. The inside linebacker has been a captain since 2004.

� Jeff Reed. Like Roethlisberger, the kicker is a first-time captain.

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Ben Roethlisberger

Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review file

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