Steeler Nation, the Steelers decided this off-season the time had come for an overhaul at the back up quarterback position. Gone are long time back ups Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich.
Frankly the time had come and may have been overdue. Charlie Batch spent 10 seasons as a serviceable back up but at age 38 it was time to move on and the often injured Leftwich had just become too fragile.
In March the Steelers signed free agent quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. Gradkowski 30 was drafted out of Toledo in the 6th round of the 2006 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bruce Gradkowski has 20 NFL starts in 7 seasons and has seen playing time with three other teams Cleveland,Oakland and Cincinnati .
Gradkowski has a career QB rating of 65.8 throwing 21 touchdowns and 24 interception. The Steelers are well aware of what Gradkowski is capable of. In 2009,Gradkowski completed 20 of 33 passes for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns including the game winning touchdown pass leading the Oakland Raiders to an upset victory over the Steelers 27-24 at Heinz Field .
Bruce Gradkowski was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area ,so he knows plenty about Steeler Tradition and what is expected of being a Pittsburgh Steeler. Here are some quotes from Steelers.com upon his signing…
Gradkowski: “Growing up here in Pittsburgh everyone is a Steelers fan,” said Gradkowski, just moments after signing his contract. “That is one of the things that excites me about coming home, knowing how diehard these fans are. These fans love their football more than anything. That is what I love.
“To grow up as a kid and think one day I would be playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s a dream come true. For me to be a part of this, I will do anything I can to help us win and get better each and every day. I am looking forward to being a part of this organization”
Gradkowski also knows the importance of being a back up in the NFL. He had this to say on the subject in an interview with Alan Robinson/Tribune-Review
Gradkowski: “In this game, you never know what is going to happen.”
“As a backup,, you have to prepare as the starter, even harder,” Gradkowski said.
“You know you aren’t going to get those reps in practice. You just mentally have to be prepared, and when your time is called you try to take advantage of the opportunity.
Gradkowski has already filled in for Ben Roethlisberger taking first team reps in practice during mini-camp as Roethlisberger recovers from minor knee surgery.
The Steelers also drafted rookie quarterback Landry Jones in the fourth-round of the 2013 draft out of Oklahoma . Gradkowski should offer some much-needed insurance while Landry Jones is able to develop and gain some NFL experience.
Steeler Nation It looks as though the Steelers have a new back up plan and in my opinion it’s and upgrade from last season’s. Whats your opinion? We would love to hear it!