What do Josh Dobbs and Jim Miller have in common? Or maybe a better way to put it is, what would Josh Dobbs like to have in common with Jim Miller?
Coach Mike Tomlin held his final news conference of the preseason today at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and during it he said that Dobbs would start at quarterback against the Carolina Panthers at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Heinz Field.
That decision completed a cycle for the Steelers quarterbacks this preseason in that each of them got to start one of the four games. Landry Jones started the opener in Philadelphia; Mason Rudolph started the following week in Green Bay; Ben Roethlisberger started last Saturday night against the Titans at Heinz Field; and Dobbs now gets his turn on Thursday night against the Panthers.
"I'm less concerned about the guys who won't play in this game that I am about the guys who do," said Tomlin. "Josh Dobbs will start the game at quarterback. It's been a good process for the quarterbacks. We've had four in camp. Starting Josh will make it so that all of the guys have had an opportunity to start. All four have represented themselves well. I'm excited about Josh playing in this game, and Mason playing in this game. We'll see if Landry plays in this game."
The connection between Dobbs and Miller is this: The last time the Steelers kept four quarterbacks on their 53-man roster was in 1995, when the four were returning starter Neil O'Donnell, veteran backup Mike Tomczak, rookie second-round pick Kordell Stewart, and Miller, who that season was headed into his second pro season after being drafted on the sixth round in 1994.
During the training camp/preseason process back then, it was assumed that Miller would be the odd man out. He had spent his rookie season, as Dobbs did, as the No. 3 quarterback and as such was inactive for all 16 regular season games and both games in the playoffs. Dobbs was inactive for all games but the regular season finale, when Roethlisberger was made inactive to rest him for the playoffs.
Miller earned a roster spot with a strong showing in the 1995 preseason. Heading into this preseason finale, Dobbs has completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 283 yards, with three touchdowns, two interceptions, and a rating of 101.9. Dobbs also has rushed for 46 yards on seven attempts, not including a two-point conversion run in the game against the Packers.
When asked whether the Steelers could keep four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, Tomlin was evasive.
"You're certainly capable of it," said Tomlin. "If you look at what happens in the National Football League, it's been done. But in today's NFL, two (quarterbacks) are probably kept more often than four, so it's probably less frequent than two at this juncture."