Steelers Notebook: Big Ben won't play; Batch starts Thursday


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The Steelers want to get Charlie Batch ready to be their No. 2 quarterback, so he will start and Ben Roethlisberger will not play when the Steelers conclude their preseason Thursday night in Carolina.

Coach Mike Tomlin said three other players will not play because of injuries -- cornerback Ike Taylor, wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and rookie linebacker Chris Carter -- and indicated several other veterans might not play as well. Those include safety Troy Polamalu, linebacker James Farrior, nose tackle Casey Hampton, center Maurkice Pouncey and cornerback Bryant McFadden.

"And there may be a few others," Tomlin said Tuesday.

The decision to start Batch and let him play with the first- and second-team is a good indication he will be the No. 2 quarterback when the regular season begins. Tomlin said Dennis Dixon will also play against the Panthers, but added, "We haven't decided on the distribution of reps."

Legursky latest starter at RG

Doug Legursky has been working at right guard with the first-team offense this week, and Tomlin said he will start there against the Panthers.

Tony Hills, a converted tackle, has started the past two games there, but Tomlin said Legursky "is getting his opportunity to play with the first unit at right guard."

Tomlin said last week that the battle for the position is "by no means over," and he reiterated as much at his Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Legursky (6 feet 1, 315 pounds) is the smartest offensive lineman on the team, but he also is the smallest. Tomlin said when he first saw Legursky a couple years ago, "I admit he's not much to look at." Then, he added, "But my wife says the same thing about me."

If Pouncey (ankle) does not play, tackle/guard Trai Essex will likely start at center. Essex was the emergency center last season.

"Whether or not Maurkice plays, Trai's going to get work at center," Tomlin said.

Key test for rookies

While the final preseason game means very little for veteran players, Tomlin said it is possible for a young player to make the 53-man roster based on one game.

He said it has happened each of the past two years. In 2009, free-agent kick-returner Stefan Logan made the team with several dazzling returns in the final preseason game. And, last season, rookie linebacker Stevenson Sylvester beat out veteran Patrick Bailey based on what he did in the final preseason game.

"Stevenson Sylvester was on the outside looking in, and he made enough plays in that game to convince us he should stay," Tomlin said.


Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com ; twitter: @gerrydulac


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