With Casey Hampton out of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans with a hamstring injury, the Steelers made a roster move late on Saturday to address their depth along the defensive line.
The Steelers signed defensive end Steve McLendon from the practice squad, and to create a spot for him on their 53-man roster, the team released quarterback Byron Leftwich.
McLendon, 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, was having himself a decent training camp up until the point he sprained an MCL. Unable to practice for weeks, or play in the preseason, McLendon was waived on the final cut, but he then was signed to the practice squad.
Leftwich went into training camp as the favorite to be the starting quarterback during the length of Ben Roethlisberger's suspension, and he held onto that status entering the preseason finale against Carolina.
But Leftwich sprained an MCL while completing a pass to Emmanuel Sanders in that game, and Dennis Dixon got the start in the opener against Atlanta. Last Tuesday, Coach Mike Tomlin announced that Dixon would start against the Titans.
Leftwich rested his knee during that opening week as nthe rest of the team prepared for the Falcons, but he had returned to practice this past Wednesday. He was able to do more in each successive day, and by Friday he was a full participant in practice. But with the Steelers in need of a roster spot for an extra defensive lineman, and with Leftwich very unlikely to play against the Titans, the Steelers made the move for the game against the Titans.
With Hampton sidelined, the six healthy defensive linemen available for the game against the Titans would be: Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, Nick Eason and McLendon. Behind Dixon at quarterback, the Steelers have veteran Charlie Batch, and Tomlin has said Antwaan Randle El would serve as the emergency quarterback.
As a vested veteran, Leftwich isn't subjected to the waiver system, and therefore cannot be claimed by another team. He is an unrestricted free agent, and technically able to sign with any other team. But expect Leftwich to be re-signed by the Steelers in the days after the game against the Titans.