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QBREES9 09-03-2010 11:16 PM

Leftwich out
After the Steelers learned the nature of Leftwich's injury, Dixon was taken out of Thursday night's preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers after throwing one pass for a touchdown -- a strong indication he was being protected for the opener. Batch played the final 2 quarters, throwing just four passes.

After working with four experienced quarterbacks during training camp, an awkward situation that resulted in Batch seeing almost no work with the starters, the Steelers suddenly are down to two.

"Of course, I'll be excited if it does come my way," said Dixon, the third-year quarterback who saw more preseason playing time with the starters than any quarterback except Roethlisberger. "At the same time, I'm even keel. I never get too high or never get too low."

An MRI exam performed Friday on Leftwich apparently didn't reveal a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which could have sidelined him for the season. A strained medial collateral ligament is less serious, but it still commonly takes weeks to heal. The Steelers didn't disclose any projected timetable Friday.

This injury couldn't have occurred at a worse time for the Steelers, who reacquired Leftwich from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in April with the intent of starting him while Roethlisberger served his suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. That punishment was reduced to four games by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday, meaning Roethlisberger can return for the Oct. 17 home game against the Cleveland Browns.

Now the Steelers must find a way to remain competitive until Roethlisberger returns.

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