Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich played in obvious pain throughout much of Sunday night's 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The veteran appeared to injure his right shoulder while falling into the end zone at the end of his 31-yard touchdown run on the game's opening drive and took a hard shot to the rib area from Ravens safety James Ihedigbo on a fourth-quarter sack.
With starter Ben Roethlisberger (sprained SC joint, rib) not expected to return this week, concern about Leftwich's status for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns will have the Steelers looking at other quarterbacks this week, reports Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.
The Steelers could conceivably start No. 3 quarterback Charlie Batch, a 37-year-old who has started seven games during his 10 seasons in Pittsburgh, including a Week 16 game against the St. Louis Rams in 2011 and pair of games when Roethlisberger was suspended at the start of the 2010 regular season. If the Steelers decide to go this route, they could re-sign Jerrod Johnson, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound first-year player out of Texas A&M who completed 14 of 21 pass attempts for 236 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason games with the Steelers in August.
Free-agent quarterbacks with connections to Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley include Tyler Palko, who started the final four games of Haley's tenure as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. In six games overall last season, Palko completed 59.7 percent of 134 pass attempts for 796 yards and two touchdowns. Palko was also sacked 11 times, was intercepted seven times and lost a fumble. Palko was not in an NFL training camp and has not worked out for an NFL team this season. The same can be said for Brodie Croyle, who started two games in two seasons under Haley with the Chiefs.
A veteran name that surfaced when news of Roethlisberger's injury hit was David Garrard. The 34-year-old Garrard was cleared by his doctors to begin working out for NFL teams on the morning after Roethlisberger went down with his injury. Garrard was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2011 season and missed the entire season after undergoing back surgery. Garrard was signed by the Miami Dolphins this offseason and opened training camp in the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, but suffered a left knee injury before the preseason opener and would eventually be released in September.
Other veteran names on the market include Vince Young, Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley, John Beck and J.P. Losman.
Based on quarterback workouts during the season, Stephen McGee could be on the list of passers that Haley and Co. check out this week. McGee, 25, was a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M by the Dallas Cowboys who made one start over three seasons as a backup to Tony Romo and Jon Kitna. McGee led the NFL with 610 passing yards during the 2012 preseason but was released as the Cowboys opted to go with just two quarterbacks (Romo and Kyle Orton) on the 53-man roster this season. McGee has worked out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, New England Patriots and Houston Texans this season. Former Patriots backup Brian Hoyer could also get a look-see from the Steelers. In three seasons as Tom Brady's top understudy, Hoyer completed 27 of 43 pass attempts for 286 yards with a touchdown and an interception in 13 relief appearances. New England released Hoyer in the offseason, opting instead to carry just two quarterbacks (Brady and 2011 third-round pick Ryan Mallett) on the active roster.