It will be next rib up at quarterback for the Steelers Sunday in Cleveland.
With Ben Roethlisberger still shelved with injuries to his shoulder and rib, Byron Leftwich had his own ribs battered by the Baltimore Ravens in the Steelers' 13-10 loss to their arch-rivals Sunday night at Heinz Field.
Two sources close to Leftwich revealed he has broken ribs, injured when he fell in the end zone following his 31-yard touchdown run early in the game. He played the rest of the game with the injury, but the Steelers are not likely to let him do so in their next game against the Browns.
Veteran backup Charlie Batch would likely start in Cleveland on Sunday and the Steelers will search in earnest to add a quarterback to their roster.
Both Leftwich and Tomlin downplayed the rib injury that was announced in the press box in the fourth quarter and highlighted by NBC-TV's broadcast crew. Leftwich appeared in obvious pain at times and clutched at the right side of his rib cage on several occasions. His passes later in the game -- particularly an attempted long one to an open David Gilreath with 22 seconds left -- seemed unusually short or otherwise off the mark even though he has the strongest arm on the team.
He returned to the game after the rib injury was announced and took all the snaps on offense.
"I'm ok, I'm ok,'' Leftwich answered both times when he was asked, first, if he were hurt and then if he hurt his shoulder.
Tomlin did not include him in the list of those Steelers injured Sunday night. When asked about Leftwich, the coach said, "Obviously, he sustained some hits, but that's football, particularly when you're talking about this matchup. He did a nice job of communicating where he was and, more than anything, we just wanted to do a nice job of communicating."
With Leftwich's injury, the Steelers will go shopping for a quarterback because Batch is the only healthy one left.
A natural would be Dennis Dixon. The Ravens re-signed him to their practice squad not long after Roethlisberger's injury against the Chiefs eight days ago. The only way for the Steelers to get their former backup quarterback to return would be to sign him to their 53-man roster, and with their top two quarterbacks down, that is possible.
Jerrod Johnson, who spent the spring and training camp with them, plays for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the U.S. Football League. He had the best passer rating of all Steelers quarterbacks in the preseason at 136.2. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 236 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Among others who are unsigned and available: Troy Smith, who was with them in the spring; Tyler Palko, a Pittsburgh native and resident who played for Haley in Kansas City and spent a brief period with the Steelers in 2009; and a bevy of bigger names such as Donovan McNabb, Mark Brunell, David Garrard and Vince Young.
Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @EdBouchette. First Published November 19, 2012 9:45 PM