Steelers Forced to Place Dennis Dixon on Injured Reserve a Week Earlier Than Desired

The Steelers placed quarterback Dennis Dixon on the injured reserve list, thus ending his season. Pittsburgh was essentially forced to do this because reserve nose tackle Chris Hoke has been ruled out of Sunday’s showdown with the visiting Ravens due to a knee injury he suffered at the end of a play where a scuffle broke out on the field late in Sunday’s, 38-13, thrashing at Tampa.

Pittsburgh could not face the Ravens with just five defensive linemen and thus re-signed Steve McLendon from the practice squad. McLendon was pulled up from the practice squad for the game against the Titans two weeks ago, while starting nose tackle Casey Hampton was out with a hamstring injury.

Assuming Hoke is ready to return, McLendon will likely be released and hopefully re-signed to the practice squad on Monday after starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is reinstated to the active roster following a league-issued suspension.

Dixon suffered a knee injury in week No. 2 against Tennessee. After minor surgery, he was projected to miss six weeks. Placing him on IR seemed logical, since the Steelers have three quality quarterbacks in Roethlisberger, and veterans Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich.

Initially, the Steelers probably planned to cut Batch after Roethlisberger’s return, but that obviously was no longer an option after Batch showed his value in passing for three touchdowns against the Bucs.

However, the Steelers were hoping to wait until Roethlisberger’s return to place Dixon on IR for fear of the injury-prone Batch and/or Leftwich – who is also returning from injury – being lost for the season or a significant amount of time with an injury against the Bucs or Ravens.

The Steelers, in a sense, are gambling that both Batch and Leftwich can make it through the Ravens game healthy. If one is lost, Pittsburgh will need to sign a third quarterback to the 53-man roster or at least the practice squad. However, that gamble became a necessity due to the injury of Hoke, who will likely return within a week or two.

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