Is Dennis Dixon the Real Deal? It's Time To Find Out

Alan ShimelCorrespondent IMay 1, 2010

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  Dennis Dixon #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hands off against the  Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

When I first realized that we were going to play some games without Ben Roethlisberger, I was actually eagerly anticipating seeing Dennis Dixon step up.

Dixon was being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate as a senior, coming off of a phenomenal junior year. He tore his ACL and the Steelers stole him in the fifth round.

Dixon has the tools to be a big time NFL QB. Great size, speed, strong arm, and a great work ethic.  He flashed some potential in the game against Baltimore last year, as well as in preseason.  

This is going to be Dixon's third year. If he is going to replace Charlie Batch as the No. 2 QB, we need to know if he is the real deal or not.

So while picking up Byron Leftwich provided some insurance and comfort, I was disappointed to hear that he is taking the snaps with the first team and not Dixon. Yes, he was here before and is more experienced. But he doesn't have the upside Dixon does. He is slow of foot, immobile and has one of the slowest releases in the NFL. He is 30 years old and has his share of wear and tear on his body too.

After this season we are going to have to decide if we are going to re-sign and keep Dennis Dixon. The first four games of the season would be a great chance to see if he is as good as he was in college.

If he is, the Steelers have an insurance policy long term in case Ben falls off the wagon. At the worst they know that if Ben goes down for any reason, long or short term they have a talented guy ready to take it up a notch.  

His speed would serve as a real counter-punch to teams that are preparing for Ben. I would love to see Dixon come in and break some runs like he did against Baltimore. Byron Leftwich isn't going to give us that.

So let's keep Byron around while Ben is out. But let's use the opportunity to see if Dennis Dixon is worthy of being the Steelers back up QB or not.  It's time for him to have his shot.

What do you say?