Sunday night the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Indianapolis Colts on a fourth quarter drive led by futures free agent quarterback Jerrod Johnson. While this was late in the game against back ups, what Johnson did was definitely worth noting.Charlie Batch on a relatively level playing field.
Yes, many will point to the fact that Batch had a solid statistical game, completing 7-of-10 passes for 84 yards in a little over a quarter. However, he did not seem in control of the offense and definitely did not look comfortable behind center, as the offense seemed to sputter along.
Last night, Johnson was the anti-Batch showing a strong arm, good agility and some excellent pocket presence. He finished the game by going 4-of-5 passing for 65 yards. In fact, fans may have to go back to the 2009 Texas A&M game tape to see more well-rounded action from the 6-5, 253-pound quarterback, who looks like a player finally all the way back from the shoulder injury that plagued his final seasons with the Aggies. Prior to the injury, he was a gifted quarterback with a strong arm, mobility and pocket awareness, attributes that were all on display against the Colts.
At this point in camp, fans have to wonder how the back up quarterback competition will shake out and if Johnson has a chance at making the opening day roster. With his performances, that answer should be a resounding yes. Veteran Byron Leftwich looks to have the primary back up behind Ben Roethlisberger solidified if he can stay healthy, which leaves one opening (based on previous roster breakdowns) for Johnson and Batch to fight for. By taking into account the performances, his natural skill set and upside, Johnson should be in the lead for that spot.
Sure, Batch is a fan favorite and consummate professional, but at his age, it may be time for the Steelers to add some young talent to the pool. On top of that, it is unlikely another team comes calling if he is released, something that cannot be said for certain at this point when looking at Johnson, who definitely opened some eyes as a potential long-term back up in the league.
Only time will tell how things shake out during the final weeks of preseason action, but one thing is certain. The Steelers have more of a back up quarterback competition on their hands than they ever imagined and Johnson is the player who made that happen.
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