Can Dixon win the job in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Dennis Dixon has a great opportunity this offseason.

Every day he goes through conditioning drills, completes a lifting session in the weight room or, as he did over the weekend, practices in the controlled setting of a minicamp or OTA, Dixon has an opportunity to show his teammates that he should be the starting QB in Pittsburgh.

Players in the NFL don’t win or lose starting jobs in the spring. That only happens in August, during camp and in the preseason games — especially for quarterbacks. Yes, coaches will watch their every move, how they handle the huddle and how they run the most basic offensive packages in minicamp, but they’ll make decisions based on how they play against opposing competition later this summer.

However, this is a different QB battle and a different situation than we usually see in the NFL because of the Ben Roethlisberger suspension. We can spin his absence any way we want, but the bottom line is that Big Ben isn’t going to be there when the season starts. That’s on him, and now it’s time for the rest of the offense to look to a new leader.

And because of that, all that really matters in Pittsburgh is who comes out as the No. 1 guy at the end of camp.

I like what I saw from Dixon in his limited time last season. He’s the type of QB who can create some issues from a defensive game plan perspective and, in the same regard, give the Steelers more options as an offense. But we all can agree that he still has a long way to go when it comes to developing as a pro QB, dealing with constant adversity that comes with the position and producing from Week 1 to Week 2 and so on.

It’s a process, a learning curve of sorts that will play out in his competition with Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, who aren’t going to give away anything to a young QB.

Dixon will make mistakes — in practice and on Sundays -- if he turns out to be the starter. He isn’t a franchise QB with two Super Bowl rings. But the key for Dixon now is to win over that locker room and get his guys to play hard for him. We tend to let those smaller aspects slip by at times, but they’re so important when it comes to the actual player’s point of view.

That’s why the QB position is so crucial at this level. He’s the guy everyone looks to, no matter the situation. And Dixon has a chance to be that guy, become a leader and quite possibly replace one in Roethlisberger if he wins games.

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