Steelers release backup QB Leftwich

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, Last Updated: 5:25 PM ET

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers have surprisingly released quarterback Byron Leftwich on Saturday, freeing up a roster spot to activate defensive lineman Steve McLendon from the practice squad.

Leftwich was expected to be Pittsburgh's starting quarterback while Ben Roethlisberger sat out his league mandated four-game suspension to start the season. However, he suffered a sprained MCL in the final preseason tuneup and Dennis Dixon was handed the starting gig.

Dixon helped guide the Steelers to a 15-9 overtime win over Atlanta to open the season behind 236 yards on 18-of-26 efficiency.

Despite the release, the Steelers' twitter feed indicated the club is expected to re-sign Leftwich next week. The 30-year-old veteran owns a 79.6 quarterback rating in 57 career games.

Charlie Batch is expected to back up Dixon in Sunday's game at Tennessee.


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