Leftwich ready for new role


By Teresa Varley

Byron Leftwich worked out for the Steelers Sunday morning, signed with them late Sunday afternoon, met some of his new teammates at dinner shortly thereafter and was on the field for his first practice on Monday morning.

It's been a crazy 24 hours for the new Steelers quarterback, but he isn't complaining.

"I am happy to be here and that Coach (Mike) Tomlin gave me this opportunity," said Leftwich. "I am excited because it is a new offense. There are new, good football players around me. As a quarterback you love that."

The Steelers were looking for a veteran quarterback to back-up Ben Roethlisberger after Charlie Batch suffered a broken collarbone against the Eagles. Leftwich, a former number one draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, understands that he is coming in as a number two guy and is willing to accept the role.

"That's why I am here," said Leftwich. "Only a fool would come in this place and think week one he would be the starter. My goal is not going to change. It's to help the team. I am going to work my tail off and do whatever they ask of me.

"It's different because you are not 'the guy', but it's not different because my whole goal is to help the football team any way I can. That is what I am going to do. I am going to prepare myself everyday in case I am needed. If I am needed we can't miss a beat and that is what I am going to try to work myself too."

Leftwich expects to play on Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills in Toronto, even if he will be a little green as far as learning the offense. But he isn't worried about being ready physically as he has stayed in shape even though he hasn't played football in months.

"Any time you put on the shoulder pads and helmet the first day is always tough," said Leftwich. "I have been working out but with no helmet and shoulder pads. I was in Miami training just getting ready and waiting on the call. I wanted to make sure when I got the call I was ready."

One big advantage that Leftwich does have is Steelers quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson worked with him when he was in Jacksonville.

"It's a blessing in disguise," said Leftwich. "Football is the same, but to have a guy who coached me all of those years he can translate it for me. We had some of the same plays, the communication and interpretation is different. He can translate it for me and that way I can get it right now. I am behind everybody.

"I am trying to learn as fast as I can. To have a guy like that who you had a relationship before and have a lot of respect for helps me out."

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