Quarterback Byron Leftwich had surgery Monday afternoon on his broken left upper arm, suffered in Saturday night's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field. Coach Mike Tomlin said he will give it a few more days to decide Leftwich's roster status.
Leftwich was the Steelers number two quarterback during the preseason, a role that will now be filled by either Charlie Batch or Dennis Dixon.
"We are determining that, that's part of what we are doing here today," said Tomlin after Monday's practice. "Obviously we've given Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon a lot of work. We didn't give Ben Roethlisberger much work today and that's probably going to be how it shapes up in the game.
"In terms of the pecking order between those two, we will determine that as we get closer to game time. Of course we will make a final determination after the game."
Both Batch and Dixon are preparing for the role and want to be ready if called upon.
"It is another opportunity for me and I have to go out here and play well," said Batch. "I know the guys on the sideline watching will be the guys evaluating me. I just want to go out there and put on a good performance and show them if I have to step into the huddle, you can count on me to get the job done.
"I think right now I have to go out there and whenever my number is called make the pitch on why I should be the next guy to step in if something were to happen to Ben."
Dixon said he has no idea who will be the number two guy, the player who will likely get the most work against the Panthers, but is ready for whatever comes his way.
"As of right now I am just worried about practice," said Dixon. "When that time comes I will be ready. At the end of the day I am a competitor. All I can do is control my reps. Whenever my number is called against Carolina on Thursday, I am ready."
Dixon is pleased with his progress so far in the preseason and feels more comfortable in the leadership role that is so important at the quarterback position.
"The leadership skills are coming along," said Dixon. "That was one of my main goals coming in to this year as far as leadership skills, taking command of the huddle and making sure everybody is on the right page."
Dixon and Batch each started two games last season, but in his 14th NFL season and 10th with the Steelers, Batch does have the edge in experience.
"I have been in this offense for a while so I know what to expect," said Batch. "The experience I have playing in this league allows me to do what I can do – come in to a game cold and be able to go out there and play. That is the dirty part of being a back-up - you don't know when your number is going to be called. It could be the first week or week 17. At the end of the day you have to go out there and help your team win."
No matter who gets the majority of the playing time against the Panthers and is earmarked at the get-go as the number two quarterback, Batch knows that is never the end of it and you have to continually show that the role should be yours.
"You still have to prove to Coach Tomlin that you are capable of being the next guy to step in. That never ends," said Batch. "I don't think it's going to end at the end of this week. It's going to continue on. You hope that there is no reason for you to go in other than a blowout. But you have to make sure you stay in tune with the game. You have to hone your skills this week as you prepare for the season."