For the third consecutive week, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a new starting quarterback when they line up against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Fifteen-year veteran Charlie Batch will start for the Steelers for the first time since Week 16 of last season when he replaces Byron Leftwich, who suffered broken ribs in last Sunday night’s 13-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. A week earlier, Ben Roethlisberger suffered shoulder and rib injuries in a Monday Night Football win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Charlie Batch is an NFL quarterback that’s had a lot of playing experience in this league, won a lot of games,” Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “I have a lot of respect for Charlie, always have.
“He’ll certainly be able to control the football game, understand the offense and everything they do. He doesn’t have the arm strength that Ben does, but there are very few that do, anywhere. We’ll have our hands full with their speed and their skill and just their overall ability on the offensive side.”
In his 15 combined seasons with the Steelers and earlier, the Detroit Lions, Batch has completed 863 of 1,534 attempts for 10,610 yards and 60 touchdowns against 48 interceptions in 78 games played.
Also, Batch is no stranger to the big play. In his career, Batch has completed touchdown passes of 98, 74, 87, 59 and 46 yards. He has completed 148 passes for 20 or more yards and 29 for 40-plus.
“When veteran quarterbacks come in and play, they tend to do very well. I think their style on offense won’t change,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “I didn’t see a change tremendously when Leftwich was in there. They talked about how they threw the ball deeper on a couple routes, but you see Ben do that. I don’t think their offense will change. They want to run the football, and when you run the football effectively, that makes the play-action believable. They’ve got a veteran guy that I’m sure their offensive players and the rest of their team will play hard for.”
In addition to Batch making his first start of the season, the Steelers will have a new wide receiver in the formation, but one familiar with the city of Pittsburgh. Originally drafted by the Steelers out of Michigan State University, Plaxico Burress spent five seasons in Pittsburgh (2000-2004) before moving onto the New York Giants (2005-2008) and the New York Jets (2011).
Burress, who was signed by the Steelers on Tuesday after a rash of injuries at wide receiver, has gained 8,457 yards and scored 78 touchdowns on 550 career catches.
“Much like Charlie Batch playing, veterans tend to come in, in the first game or month that they’re with a new team and have an impact,” Shurmur said. “I’ve known Plaxico since he was in high school. He was at Michigan State and I watched him do damage for the Giants when I was in Philadelphia. I know Plaxico very well personally and then, of course, watching him as a player. I’ve got a great deal of respect for him and the impact he can have on a game. I’m sure they’ll get him up and running and I’m sure we’ll see him on Sunday.
“When you’re brand new to anything, I don’t think it’s seamless. They’ve got very smart coaches and they know their team and they know where they’re going to fit him in to make an impact. They’ll get him up-and-running quickly. I think it would be impossible for us to say that he’s going to know the whole game plan and be able to function in every situation, but I would bet we’ll see him on the field.”The all new Browns Fan4Pack is on sale now! The all-inclusive game day package includes 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 Pepsi Products, 4 game programs and 1 parking pass for home games versus the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9 or the Washington Redskins on Dec. 16. Click here to purchase today!