Former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch hosted his 7th Annual In the Pocket on Monday night at Latitude 40 in Robinson Township.
The event, which benefits the Best of the Batch Foundation, brought some of his former teammates together to get competitive in games like pool, ping pong and new this year, bowling.
“It means a lot to have them come out to this,” said Batch. “It’s something that you talk about family when you are inside there, now that I am on the outside people still know what I am doing and what we have built over the years. To get that support is great and humbling, starting from Art Rooney to Kevin Colbert to the players it means so much that they believe in what we do.”
The event benefits the Foundation’s Reading and Computer Literacy Program, a program that serves over 2,000 kids in the Steel Valley each year.
“It’s a huge part of our foundation. Without the fundraiser we can’t have our computer lab,” said Latasha Wilson-Batch, the foundation’s executive director. “The money that comes in to us means we can give kids other resources to help improve reading and test scores. We have seen the kids study habits change by doing this, having the computer lab. We see differences in study habits, test scores and everything. Without this event, we wouldn’t be able to do such things for the children in the community.”
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Former Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch is at tonight’s game, hosting the Best of the Batch Foundation and the Champs Sports Network preseason WPIAL High School All-Star Team. The team was introduced prior to the game.
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Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch is a finalist for the Byron “Whizzer” White Award, an honor given by the NFL Players Association to a player for their work in the community.
“It’s humbling,” said Batch. “To be a finalist for the highest award you can receive from the NFLPA is special. To be considered one of those guys is special.”
Batch started his Best of the Batch Foundation 12 years ago, serving those in the Pittsburgh area, including Homestead where he was raised. The foundation provides an array of services, from computer literacy programs to summer basketball leagues.
“I am blessed to play here for this organization and be this close to home, allowing me to be hands on with everything I am doing with the foundation and have people believe in me,” said Batch. “I can’t do this by myself. We go out there and try to change lives and when people see that, it’s even more humbling.”
Batch has been able to see the impact the foundation has had on kids and looks forward to continuing to develop and grow the foundation.
“A lot of kids started with us when they were seven or eight years old and we see kids graduating from high school and heading off to college,” said Batch. “When you see the kids growing up, and them getting the opportunity to go out and live their dreams, that is what we are all about. We want to have them reach beyond their expectations.”
Batch is one of five finalists along with Chad Greenway (Minnesota Vikings), Charles Tillman (Chicago Bears), Benjamin Watson (Cleveland Browns) and Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys). All of the finalists will receive a donation to their charity and the winner, who will be announced by the NFLPA next week in New Orleans, will receive an additional $100,000 donation.
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Are you ready for this week?
I’m ready. I’m coming back in and just preparing for San Diego this week. I’m just excited.
Is it hard approaching a week like this where you don’t know if you will be the starter, even though it was the same situation last week?
Same situation last week. I’ll have a better indication as the week unfolds but as I stand here in front of you now I honestly don’t know.
What has it been like for you in the days since you beat the Ravens?
A lot of [time in the] ice tub. [Laughs]
What did Baltimore do for your confidence and the confidence of the offense?
I think just going out there, doing something that nobody thought we could do, I think everybody was eager to get back on the field because of the performance we had in Cleveland. You turn the ball over eight times, you lose the ball game, and it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. For me, I was hoping to get that opportunity and go out there and have another shot. We knew it was going to be tough and it was just one of those things that we had to do whatever we needed to do to win.
It was a tough week last week, right?
It was. That’s the nature of football. You look back one week and if you don’t do the job, you have to live with those results all week and people continue to talk about it. Everybody was just excited to put it behind them when we got in here on Wednesday.
Do you have to take the majority of reps this week?
I would like to have all the reps if you know you’re going to be the starter for the week. But as long as Ben [Roethlisberger] is ready to go he’s going to go. Then you kind of fall back into the role which you normally fall back into. I’m used to that, which is typically preparing if you’re going to play but then not necessarily get the reps and ultimately not play. I understand both sides of it and right now I’m comfortable either way.
Did you need the cold tub just for your arm or for everything else?
No, I do it all the time, jump into the ice tub. But it’s something after a game you don’t really know how sore you are until about 24 hours after the game. For me, I just try to stick with my routine. I was in there a little bit longer at times.
Is it a situation where you want to play but you also want Roethlisberger back in there?
You always want to play but my role is the backup. So, if he’s ready to play you can’t be sad about that. Ben is the guy. So, whenever Ben is ready to go he’s going to be out there and he’s going to do everything in his power to be out there.
Did your performance buy Roethlisberger an extra week to heal up?
All I do is go out there, and if I’m called upon, do my job and I don’t know in what capacity. You never want to wish injury on anybody and as long as [Roethlisberger] is healthy he’s going to be out there. Selfishly, you look at it as an opportunity to go out and play because that’s why we’re ultimately here..
You said your struggles against Cleveland were a result of poor decision-making rather than rust. Do those two things play hand-in-hand? Did you feel sharper with your decision-making against Baltimore?
No, it goes back to another week of preparation which I had and going out there and doing your job. For me, it was one of those things where I’m not going to use an excuse and I refuse to do that. I know I played bad against Cleveland and it was just one of those things of going out and proving that I could go out there and lead the team and that’s all I was trying to do. It wasn’t one way or another and I’m not going to sit here and do that, and I never will use anything as an excuse.
Re: The image of the emotional hug between you and Roethlisberger after the game:
That was in the game and something that when you look at it, you’re playing you leave everything on the field. The game is emotional. It’s just something that people will see that and for me you look at it, it’s a new opportunity this week. It’s not something that I’ll continue to talk about.
What is your reaction to people to talking about your age? Happy birthday, by the way.
Thank you. As long as you’re able to do it, regardless of your age, there might be some 26-year olds that feel worse than I do. It doesn’t matter. I think that’s something that media tends to put on people as far as age. But realistically, in this business, when you’re 30 years old they consider you old, but when you’re my age your pretty much ancient. That’s just something that is the nature of the game. At some point, there’s always going to be young guys that are going to come in and take your job. That’s just part of it. There’s nothing you can do about it because I’m sure there are a bunch of 40-year olds that think they can still but, unfortunately, they don’t get the opportunity.
Did you need a game like that? Did you feel like you needed to prove anything to yourself?
Yeah, because I wanted to go out there and prove that the Cleveland game was not me. That was more or less anything, just going out there and doing my job. But not knowing if I would have that opportunity that following week added up to the whole week. Because you’re like, “Wow, that was the last game I started this year.” It would be tough to swallow that. You just don’t know. You just go through it each week and see how it plays out.
Did you ponder if that was the final start of your career?
No, you never start thinking about that. For me, I just look back and I don’t know how the rumors started anyway at the top of the week on that. After the game, you look because you just don’t know how things are going to play out because you look back and you say maybe there is a possibility that Ben is going to start this week and if he does, I won’t start. Bottom line. So you always are going to look at that and think is this your last game starting or not. There could have been a time this year where maybe I didn’t start at all if he didn’t get injured. You just don’t know how that whole thing plays out. When you’re a backup there’s times that you may start a game during the season or there may be years before you get a start. You just don’t know how the whole thing unfolds.
What are your expectations for the week? Will you split the snaps?
Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know how [Roethlisberger] is going to feel throughout the course of practice. Maybe there are some plays that he may not need or there may be plays where he does want one. If he wants them, then my reps are going to be less. I just don’t know how this thing is going to unfold. I probably will have a better answer after practice.
Do you have the whole menu of plays available to you?
I have the whole menu of plays but I think when you look at this situation now, it’s almost like, if he does take more reps, now I’m not just taking the first team reps, I have to also put on the Philip Rivers helmet.
Won’t QB Brian Hoyer do that?
It could be both because maybe he needs a break. Ben’s not going to do it. [Laughs] That’s just how it goes. It something that I just don’t know how this thing is going to unfold.
What are you doing for your birthday?
Relaxing. I’m working.
What have you seen from the Chargers and how important is it to not have letdown after the Baltimore win?
They are very tough. Their defense is solid and they’ve been playing solid the entire year. Two weeks ago they had Baltimore on the ropes and gave up a fourth-and-29 play before they ultimately lost that football game. We can’t take anything for granted. We know they’re going to be tough coming in here and we need to expect their best, which we know we’re going to get.
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“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”
— Excerpt from an editorial in the New York Sun, 1897, in response to child’s letter about the existence of Santa Claus.
On Christmas Eve, a doorbell will ring at a home in the Mon Valley area, and an excited child who can barely sleep in anticipation of Christmas morning will jump off their couch and curiosity will get the best of them as they peek out the window to see if maybe, just maybe Santa Claus is coming to the front door instead of down the chimney.
As mom answers the door, they will peer around her and their eyes will widen as they can’t believe who they see standing on their porch. No, it’s not Santa Claus, but it might as well be. Standing in front of them will be Charlie Batch, holding not just a sack of toys, but the dreams of what Christmas morning is made of.
“Sometimes the kids are excited because I am knocking on their door,” said Batch. “When you see their face on Christmas Eve you are like, ‘Wow, this is what it’s about,’”
Batch gets nothing but joy as he tells the kids that Santa asked him to help deliver the toys, bringing happiness to those who might otherwise go without the simple pleasure of a toy on Christmas morning. And it warms his heart when he sees the tears flowing from a grateful mother who might not otherwise be able to provide for their kids.
Batch is as excited about this Christmas Eve as the kids, so anxious to go out and deliver the toys for the sixth straight year, many of them donated by Steelers’ fan at the annual “Batch of Toys” drive, held at Dave & Buster’s at the Waterfront on Tuesday. Batch and his teammates signed autographs for those who brought toys.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Batch of the support he gets. “This time of year is always special for me. So many people support it, fans believe in what we are doing. We even have wrapping parties and everyone comes over and wraps them.”
The toys will be shared with local women’s shelters, the Salvation Army, UPMC Children’s Hospital AIDS patients, Pittsburgh Housing Authority, McKee Temple and families in the Mon Valley and Allegheny County that Batch will visit on Christmas Eve.
“When you are able to go out and see the expressions on a kid’s face when you are out there delivering the presents, no matter if it’s Christmas Eve or going to women’s shelters or Salvation Army, it’s something that gets me,” said Batch
Batch collects toys throughout the month of December through the Best of the Batch Foundation, combining them with his own donations to help those who are struggling during the holiday season.
“There is so much need for it throughout the year which people just don’t know,” said Batch. “You don’t hear all of the stories. For us to go out and do our small part…we are just trying to make a difference.”
The letters that Batch receives in the days, weeks and months after Christmas are proof that he is making a difference, filled with thanks, love and gratitude. Knowing what it means to so many makes him so excited to do it again.
“I am ready to drive the sleigh,” said Batch. “I am already looking forward to it.
“When I think of this time of year, I enjoy putting on the Santa hat, going out and delivering the toys. That is what it’s all about.”
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. In this case he might wear black and gold instead of a red suit, but it doesn’t matter. He makes you a believer.
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There is no doubt that quarterback Charlie Batch is a hometown hero, so on Friday night it was only fitting that he was inducted into the Steel Valley Hall of Fame.
Batch, who is from Homestead, Pa., part of the Steel Valley, was honored for his achievements on the field and his contribution to the community.
Batch attended Steel Valley High School and then went on to play at Eastern Michigan. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round in 1998, playing four seasons there before signing with the Steelers in 2002.
“It’s special,” said Batch. “To have so many great players come out of the area and to be recognized as one of the best is appreciated.”
Batch established the Best of the Batch Foundation, giving back to those in the Steel Valley area in many ways, including educational programs.
“I am in a rare situation where I am home playing football,” said Batch. “To be so close to home and be able to continue to do what we are doing with the foundation and make an impact on the community is special because there are so many people involved and believe in our cause.
“I am extremely proud to be from the area. There are so many great people from there, not only in sports but in business. To have an opportunity to be around those people, and those trying to make an impact in that area, we are trying to do our small part but understand there is more that needs to be done.”
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Quarterback Charlie Batch talked on Wednesday about the offense, his performance and this week’s game against the Ravens.
Re: Performance Sunday and your thoughts moving forward:
I have to play better. It’s something I can do. I turned the football over three times. Right now, I just have to figure out a way to get us into the end zone, and that’s what I have to do.
How much input did you have in the game plan last week and will you have a little more this week?
With me, I did have an input in the game plan. That’s something that as you go throughout the course of the week, you start with what you like and what you don’t like. I don’t expect that to change this week and that’s something that, between today and Friday, I’ll have better indication of what I like moving forward.
What kind of a difference does it make having WR Antonio Brown in the lineup?
Depending on how this week goes, that can determine what our packages are for the week. We’ll be encouraged as we go through. Right now, I know he’s excited to get back on the field. It’s been a while for him, and I’ll be excited as well.
What do you think will go better this week?
I have to make better decisions. The three turnovers just can’t happen, especially when you’re moving the football. I think right now, just getting back on the practice field, I have to go out there and make sure I get the timing with the receivers. And I need to make sure I’m doing whatever it takes to put this team in the end zone.
You said that if you put the ball out there two or three yards more on a pass to Wallace that hit Browns S T.J. Ward in the helmet it would have been a completion. Do you still have that two or three yards more?
Absolutely, and that’s something when you’re going that deep and trying to make a decision 50 yards down the field on his angle, that’s something that I have to figure out a way to get that ball in front of him, because that’s a potential 70 or 80-yard touchdown pass in that situation. You just make sure you continue to work on that timing.
Do you have any concerns about your game speed, your arm strength, getting the ball deep or making the throws to the sideline?
Not at all.
Did you struggle with some decision making because of the offense being choppy with all the turnovers? Did you feel like you needed big chunks of yards and pushed the ball deep down the field to Wallace in double coverage?
No. Every situation is different throughout the course of the game. For me, when you’re in those critical situations, I just have to make better decisions. The last interception was a first-down play. We didn’t necessarily need to have the ball pushed down the field the way that I did. I could have easily checked it down and continued to play ball. Any time that you have situations like that, you would love to have those back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t and that’s why you get back on the field and get ready for Baltimore.
Is there any difference in this Ravens defense than ones you may have faced in the past?
No, because we just saw them two weeks ago. They did a lot of good things on their side that kind of messed with us defensively. And I’m sure we’ll continue to see that. We’ll see an added element that they’re going to add this week. We’re just going to have to prepare for everything.
How weird is it to face a team like this you know so well twice in three games?
It’s definitely weird but this is the way that the schedule was dealt. We knew that we were going to be dealing with this situation two weeks ago and when the schedule came out. It’s nothing that surprised us, and right now what we have to do is prepare for them.
Do you expect QB Ben Roethlisberger to lobby hard to play?
I’ve been around him long enough [to know that]. I’m sure he’s been lobbying the last couple weeks. That’ll be something that he and Coach Tomlin talk about.
This team has won without Roethlisberger before. What makes this stretch different? Are there mistakes that you avoided before and are costing you now?
I think it’s that we’ve been able to get wins the last couple of times. That’s what’s different about it right now. We have to figure out whatever we need to do because as we continue to push during the final stretch of our season in order for us to get to where we want to get to, we have to start winning.
Is the offense too reliant on Roethlisberger’s specific skill set?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that because there are a lot of guys on this team that are capable of making plays. For whatever reason, we just haven’t been able to get into the end zone, and I think right now we’re going to figure out a way to do that. I don’t think that anybody in this locker room would think any other way.
Do you think the offense will take a bigger step this week with you at quarterback after having a game under your belt?
We’re going to have to. Last week, we only put up one touchdown, and defensively they did a great job. They went out there and played phenomenal throughout the course of that game. We just continued to put them in bad situations. In order for us to grow, we can’t do that offensively. We’re going to go out there, work hard and continue to do what we need to do in order to make progress this week.
What role might WR Plaxico Burress have this week?
We’ll see how that plays out. We don’t know how it’s going to play out because Antonio [Brown] can make a difference either way as far as packages go. I’m sure we’ll be able to answer that throughout the course of the week.
Is it frustrating to have an offensive line that is continually banged-up and shuffled around?
That’s tough, but either way it’s the next guy’s opportunity. Early on this year we had to deal with the same situations, and for us, we’ve been able to battle through that. Right now is no different.
Do you still have the feeling that you need to redeem yourself, even after playing for so many years?
I still have it because I know I didn’t play well last week. Any time that you have another opportunity like this week, for me this is going out there and making sure I don’t make those mistakes again.
Is there a statement Coach Tomlin was trying to make naming WR Mike Wallace a co-starter and naming RB Jonathan Dwyer the starter?
I don’t know. When we hear it, we hear it the same time that you do. I wouldn’t look into anything more than that.
Are teams defending you differently with Roethlisberger out?
No, not at all.
Are teams defending you differently with Brown out of the lineup?
No, because it depends on the different formations and what we’re trying to take advantage of. We haven’t been able to do that over the last couple of weeks. Those questions tend to play out throughout the course of the game.
Have you seen Wallace double covered a little bit more in the last few games than he was when Brown was on the field?
Possibly. I wasn’t seeing him double-teamed any more than he was in the past. You have to respect his speed and teams obviously do.
Do you expect to improve now that this will be consecutive starts for you?
For me, you have that opportunity to go out again and correct those mistakes. Now you’re dealing with timing issues, and you’re talking about play clock management. I had a delay of game and that’s unacceptable. I shouldn’t do that and it has to be corrected this week. You’re talking about five yards of field position in that situation. Obviously, I was disappointed and Coach Tomlin was disappointed in that because that’s something where I expect better from myself.
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Quarterback Charlie Batch talked with the media on Wednesday about this week’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
What has it been like getting the reps at quarterback?
It’s been good so far. Today is actually the first practice. I’ll get a better idea and a routine as we move on this week.
Is this just like getting back on a bike?
Right. That’s it. It’s always good to be out there. The last time I was in there was August so it’s been a couple months but to get back in the saddle, I feel good about it.
Do you have any concerns with the changes to the receiving corps?
Right now, that’s part of what we’re dealing with. We’ll be okay. We’re not going to use that as an excuse but whoever we have out there are waiting for their opportunities and the guys will go out there and compete.
Re: The Browns ability to get after the quarterback:
They did a really good job of that last week in Dallas. They did a good job of getting after Tony Romo and doing that on the road. Defensively upfront they’re very solid and we have a tough challenge ahead of us.
Todd Haley has gone out of his way to say it’s not the “Todd Haley” offense. How would you describe the offense?
Well, it’s definitely not my offense right now. I think that’s something that, right now he says it’s not his offense, it goes to whatever quarterback is in there. I think that’s something that he’s able to adjust. When you’re the quarterback, you get a lot more input in the game plan and figure out what you’re comfortable with.
Have you talked about those things with Haley yet or will you do it as the week goes on?
We’ll have to do it as the week goes on. We got the game plan this morning and as you go through the course of the week, some plays get taken out, some plays get added and when you get to Friday, pretty much everybody knows what the game plan is going into Sunday.
Have you played a game in Cleveland?
I’ve played in that stadium but I haven’t started in it.
Are there any nuances or anything to playing there? It’s supposed to be a decent day but cold.
Decent, cold. Just being up there for a number of years now, you never know what you’re going to get. We’ve been up there when it was sunny at the beginning of the season. And we’ve been up there when it was nine below it seemed like at one point. You don’t know, but either way each team has to deal with it.
Have you played in a game with WR Plaxico Burress?
I think in 2003. I think it was whenever I had to come in for an injury. I think Tommy [Maddox] got hurt at one point during the ’03 season and I had to step in for a couple plays.
Does it seem like eight years ago that Burress was here?
It doesn’t. The one thing about it is everybody around here has kept in contact with him because he is a friend and he’s been a teammate of a lot of players, even though now the team has changed. As people continue to follow him, talk to him, they’ve been updating everybody in here.
How quickly can Burress get up to speed?
He’s been doing a good job of really trying to absorb as much as possible. Only he will be able to determine that. It’s just a matter of how the week goes on. Some verbiage is similar and some is new to him. It’s just going to be a matter of how he handles that.
How much are you looking forward to starting?
I’m always excited. These opportunities don’t come often anymore and here I am, getting up there in years and when you have this opportunity you cherish it.
Does it make it easier for you to help a guy like Burress when you have been around for all these years?
Yeah, that’s something that you go through and you’re going to help him out as they go through it. They’re going to give him a little bit to see what he can do and you just kind of expand as the week goes on. He’ll have a better answer for that as the week goes on.
What do you see from the Cleveland defense?
They’re very tough. We know we have a tough challenge ahead of us. They played Dallas well on the road. They’ve been in every single game this season, if not leading in some of them. We know we have a very tough task and it’s going to be tough on the road and that’s not something we’ve done very well so far this season.
Do you think people might underestimate what you are able to do?
Right now, you never know when you’re going to get in there. For me, I’m looking at this opportunity as a way for me to be excited about it for one, and help in any way that I can and help this team get a win because that’s what we need.
Do you think you could have made a difference if you played Sunday night?
I didn’t play. So, it’s hard to answer that.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
That’s a tough question. We have a lot of great dishes that we have. We have the turkey, the ham and when you talk about the macaroni and cheese and collard greens, there’s a little bit of everything. That’s why a lot of my teammates enjoy coming over to my house because they know we have a lot of different selections. [Laughs]
Are you still surprised with what the offense has done the last couple weeks, which is to say not a lot?
We know it’s tough to go out there and compete every week. I think that’s something that guys have stood up to the challenge of being the next guy and not disappointing this team in any way. We have a lot of people and right now I have an opportunity to help do that. I think anybody that has a chance to step in with the starters, they’re going to go out there and do their best.
How prepared are you?
I’m ready to go. That’s a part of my job description. You don’t know when you’re going to be called upon but when you are you have to be ready. That’s something you don’t take lightly and being a starter in this league allowed me to know how to prepare with and without the physical reps you get throughout practice. Either way, I’ll be ready.
Were you ready to go last week if you were called upon?
I was. And at some point, you kind of watch the game unfold and you don’t know if you’re going in. But either way you always want to make sure that you stay warm and at any given point, if you have to go in, you have to go out there and do your job.
Is it the same preparation with the guys filling in with all the injuries at wide receiver and running back?
It’s the same and every position it seems like has to deal with that at some point during the season. We really have yet to field a healthy team. Right now, everybody is kind of waiting but at the same time, is making sure to right the ship as we move forward.
How much of a comfort level is there with Burress?
Yeah, for him, he knows how to catch the ball. He’s been very successful in the league, he’s a Super Bowl champion. Nobody is expecting anything less. I know when he left years ago, nobody wanted to see him go but that’s just a part of the business. But he was able to continue his career and I think right now, being able to come full circle back, he is very familiar with this organization, they’re very familiar with him and I think it’s a win-win for both.
Is Burress’ height a big advantage for a guy who doesn’t know the offense?
I think kind of, depending on the situations will determine how you use him. Either way, he knows the plays. He’ll take whatever he has on the playbook and go out there and learn it because there’s a chance that he may have to go out there and make plays. He’s done that before in this league and nobody would be surprised if he was able to go out there and continue to do what he’s capable of doing. I don’t want to say the majority of the guys, but we have been following him along his career anyway because we still have some familiar faces in this locker room. Either way, he was a friend and everybody followed him.
Is this role and this situation something you’ve just gotten used to?
You never get used to it because it changes every day. It’s not something that you can say, “I’m used to this” or “I’m used to that.” My description is backup and whether that’s the second backup or the third backup, if you’re number is called upon, you have to be ready to play because you never know how a season is going to play out.
Is it comforting to know that you’re the starter and don’t have to look over your shoulder and will be allowed to stay in the game even if you are hurting?
Any time you start a game you want to finish and that’s the competitor that’s in any quarterback out there. When you have that and you know that as long as you’re not doing anything to hurt the team and you can go out there and do you your job, you’re going to want to stay out there and that’s something that you love to have with a coach and making sure that you don’t have to look over your shoulder.
Do you think Coach Tomlin has proven that?
He’s done that with every quarterback who has been in there, and that’s including Ben [Roethlisberger].
Re: Breaking your hand against Cleveland after being in the midst of having a good game against them:
Yeah, that was 2005. [Laughs] They’ve changed coaches, they’ve changed coordinators so it’s really hard to say they have all the same people because they don’t. You can always say you’re familiar with division opponents, but in this case you don’t know what they’re going to do because we have a new offense and you have to see how the game unfolds.
Re: Being 5-2 as a starter for the Steelers:
I’d love to be undefeated. Either way, you just continue to go on and whenever your number is called you just go out there and try to do your job. Right now, I’m that guy and there’s no telling how long I’ll have this position, it could be one week, it could be two or three. I don’t know. But either way, you just go week to week and not worry about what’s going to happen after the fact. We need to focus on Cleveland and that’s what I’m doing right now.
Some believe you should have been the backup ahead of Byron Leftwich before the season started. Do you worry about that or think you should have got a chance before he did?
That’s not my decision. Ultimately, whenever they’re putting the roster together, decisions are made and you have to deal with it. If you can’t control it, don’t worry about it and that’s what I’ve done.
Do you still get excited when you’re going to start?
You do get excited and you start to kind of get those butterflies running through but you try to control them because we’re still far enough away from the game that you don’t want to use up all of your energy right now. That’s something that over the years I still get excited about because these opportunities don’t come much and right now I have another one.
Does it seem like things always come back to you starting? It’s happened in quite a few seasons.
Well, there’s times that it didn’t happen and didn’t come my way. Either way, you just have to be ready and every time, it’s been under different circumstances where I was starting at the end of the season when the season was already won. We won the division and I had to play. Versus last year, where you had to come in and keep the ship right so we could still try and win the division towards the end of the season. Each year is different and each year you kind of seize the moment.
Did you feel like this training camp was one of your better camps?
I did. I went out there, obviously my body felt great and you still have to go out there and prove that you can do it. Not only are you doing that with the head coach and general manager, but you’re still proving that to the players because they are the ones watching you in August. You want to make sure, that if you have to step in they believe that you can get the job done.
Do you feel like a guy that’s going to be 38 in a couple weeks?
No, because you just reminded me. [Laughs] I’m doing it for all the 38-year olds.
After your start last year, did you feel like a guy who was older? Did it take a little longer to heal up?
It’s hard to know. You just know at this age, you spend a lot of time in the ice tub and try not to get that feeling. The good thing is, I’m not the only person in this locker room that has to feel that way. We have a bunch of 30-year olds on this team so don’t try to point it in my direction. [Laughs]
Is your arm strength still there from when you were a starter in Detroit and do you still feel like you can make the throws?
No, it was 15 years ago. [Laughs] Right now, I’m capable of going out there and I feel like I can make every throw. You don’t get evaluated today. You got evaluated in OTAs, the offseason and games to make sure that you are able to be in this position if you are called upon. I felt that I’ve done that and I think they’ve done the evaluation and I think that’s why I made this team.
Do you think this offense plays to your strengths?
I do. This is something that, going from August and the last time being in this offense and having a chance to input what the game plan is going to look like, now I have some familiarity as far as what we did in August versus now. I think as this week goes by, it will be better answered toward the end of the week.
Re: Making your first start of the season in an important road game:
I think the biggest thing is making sure that from a timing standpoint, you’re understanding the play clock and having it register in your helmet and being able to spit the verbiage out in the huddle and get to the line of scrimmage in an ample amount of time. You have to be able to go up there and make the checks if needed. That will probably be the biggest difference from there to practice because you can’t simulate that. And that’s with every quarterback, you just can’t simulate it.
Is this offense one where a guy can come in and pick it up right away?
It depends on who that guy is. There’s no doubt that he can come in here and do that. He’s not a rookie and I think that’s something that, assuming that we’re both talking about Plaxico in this case, I think when you look at it for him, he’s played and he’s won in this league. He knows the speed of the game. It’s not going to be new to him. It’s just a matter of making sure that he can break the huddle, get lined up and go out there and play without thinking about it, which we all know he is capable of doing.
Is there any extra urgency with starting this divisional game on the road?
There’s always urgency. No matter what the situation is, all the way back to ’07 was the only time the game didn’t mean much because the division was already clinched, but any time other than that when I’ve had to step in, we still had to win the game because something was at stake. At this point, we still have a chance to win the division. We still have to keep up with everybody else at this point. But we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. That’s why we have to go up there and we have to figure out a way no matter what, to get this one in Cleveland.
Are you going to wear extra rib pads?
I’m going to wear what I wear. [Laughs]
Is there any sort of extra importance of staying healthy because of the other injuries at the quarterback position and having a new backup?
I’ve been in this situation in 2010 where there was only two quarterbacks at Tennessee and Dennis [Dixon] goes down in the first quarter and I had to go out there and I was the only quarterback for the next two and a half weeks. When you ask that question, you just have to go out there and play. You’re looking at it from a rib injury stand point, I think that it’s something that you don’t know how it’s going to happen because both injuries occurred differently. I know one had equipment on. I’m not even sure if the other one had equipment on. That’s something that people are really not familiar with when talking about the quarterback. You’re always exposed and no matter if you have pads on or not, if you get hit with your arm in the throwing position like that, pads can’t protect it.
What are you expecting from Burress?
Big plays. I know he’s going to be excited and we’re probably going to have to calm him down because he gets to throw the uniform back on, a Steelers uniform. For him, I’m sure he’s going to have a lot of emotions because he’s come full circle. This is the place I know he didn’t want to leave when he first left. The business took him away from us and he’s coming back. I’m just going to have to worry about calming him down because I know he’s going to be excited and I know he’s capable of making plays. It’ll be exciting to get him out there and get him a catch and get him in the endzone. You just don’t know how the emotions are going to fly for him. He’s going to come in and everybody believes in him and that’s why he’s here.
Did you and Burress stay in touch?
We talked over the years. When I got here, he was young. I only had a couple years with him. When you come in here like that, I was new to the team and learning different personalities as I went along. You had people who were with each other more than others and when you look at him, you talk about a 23, 24, 25 year old guy, to coming back in his early 30’s. You mature and learn how the game goes on the longer you’re in this league. At the end of it, you just appreciate the work that it takes to get it done and have longevity in this league.
Re: How Burress will be used:
One of the questions is going to be, “How do you use him?” We have to figure that out. We don’t know how we’re going to use him yet. So, how can somebody else know how you’re going to go out there and defend him because he is such a threat? He has his height and he’s capable of playing. How do you dictate that? Do you go back and watch Jets film, Giants film? Do you go all the way back to when he played here? You don’t know how he’s going to do. But every system is different for him to go out there and compete. I’m excited to learn how that answer as we go along.
Tags: Charlie Batch
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That competitive spirit was on display again on Monday night at the 6th Annual In the Pocket with Charlie Batch, when players gave their all for a good cause.
Players went head-to-head with guests in games like pool and ping pong to benefit the Best of the Batch Foundation, and you could tell by the intensity losing was not an option.
“It’s always fun,” said Batch. “That is how it started, because I saw how competitive everyone in the locker room was. We wanted to raise money in a fun way and do something different than what was out there. I saw my teammates compete in everything, even throwing a rolled up ball of tape into a garbage can. It turned out because everyone is so competitive and it’s fun.”
The event has continued to grow since its inception, and Batch’s plan is to have it continue to expand.
“It’s always exciting because the fans believe in what we are doing and help the cause,” said Batch. “We want to make it better. When we started you didn’t know what was going to happen. We moved it up after the first year. Now the demand is still there. It’s a blessing because people believe in what we are doing.”
Proceeds from the event help run the Foundation’s Reading and Computer Literacy Program and allows them to house the Steel Valley Alternative School Program. In addition to the hundreds that have used the computer lab, there are currently 11 kids in the alternative school program, sent to the foundation because of behavioral problems in main stream schools or through court order.
“If it wasn’t for this they wouldn’t have a place to go,” said Latasha Wilson-Batch, the foundation’s executive director. “They wouldn’t get the education they need. It’s important for us to do this event because the kids want to do things better, but they need help.”
Some refer to the alternative school program as the “Charlie Batch School,” and parents have inquired about getting their kids in the program. For Batch that is a compliment because it shows they are doing something right, but his hope is that all the kids are able to attend their own schools and not have to resort to alternative schooling.
“We have them going to school, but it’s not cool to be in this school because you got kicked out of school and are in an alternative program,” said Batch. “They are angry because now they can’t play sports and have to focus on school with no ball. You have to encourage them why they are going to school – to graduate. That is a tough sell because they feel there is no reason to go to school.
“We always try to turn the negative into a positive and try to get them back to main school. That is something we make sure we let them know.”
Tags: Charlie Batch
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Quarterback Charlie Batch will host “In The Pocket with Charlie Batch” on Monday, Nov. 5 from 7-11 p.m. at J. Verno Studios.
The event benefits the Best of the Batch Foundation’s reading and computer literacy programs.
Guests have the opportunity to challenge Batch and some of his Steelers’ teammates to fun games like pool and ping pong as well as bid on unique silent and live auction items.
Tickets are still available at www.batchfoundation.org or by calling 412-326-0119.
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Quarterback Charlie Batch got the Steelers on the board with a first quarter touchdown pass, but before the game was signing autographs for fans like he always does.
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The Steelers break training camp this weekend and then it’s back to the team’s practice facility on the South Side for the remainder of the preseason.
It was the first camp under offensive coordinator Todd Haley and players feel a lot more comfortable now than they did at the beginning of camp with the new offense.
“Every day we are getting a little more comfortable and getting ready to finish the preseason and get ready for the regular season,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “We are getting better every day. It’s just a repetitive process and you keep working at it.
“I think we made good strides and got better every day and are continuing to get better.”
The first preseason game against the Eagles was test one, but the second test will come on Sunday night against the Colts at Heinz Field.
“Guys are comfortable with the first preseason game under our belt,” said quarterback Charlie Batch. “You can see a nice step forward. We have something to look forward to moving into the second game. All you want to do is continue to go out there and get better each week.”
For the quarterbacks a big part of the adjustment has been the terminology and making sure they make the right calls.
“I know everything that is supposed to be said, I know how to say it, and I know how to get it out of my mouth,” said quarterback Byron Leftwich. “That was the hard part, learning just how to get it out of my mouth. I understand the concepts, what he wants done with the offense. From a quarterback standpoint we are just trying to execute it at a high level to be successful.”
Leftwich said the changes in terminology are basically like trying to learn a new language.
“I tried to learn Spanish five years ago and I am still trying to,” said Leftwich. “As a quarterback when you say the play you visualize it mentally. In the beginning when you were saying the plays you were just saying the plays. Then when you break the huddle you get the opportunity to visualize it. The quicker you visualize the play before you have the chance to call it the better. It helps you in your reaction time.”
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch
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The no huddle was the primary focus for the Steelers’ office in practice on Tuesday, and worked on more Wednesday. And so far it’s getting good reviews.
“It went well,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “It was a good start. We did a little bit (Wednesday) and I thought it went a little bit better. We’re going to keep making progress and taking strides to keep getting better.”
Fellow quarterback Charlie Batch thinks the repetitiveness will make the next time out that much easier.
“You have to practice it,” said Batch. “There is always going to be a day devoted to that. You can never get too much work. You just have to get enough work to absorb it. When there is that much and you hear it over and over again and you are walking through the reps it helps.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley implemented the no huddle during OTAs, so the players have had a few times to work with it and they are getting more comfortable with it every time.
“As you learn it you get a feel for what Coach Haley likes and he gets a feel for what each of the quarterbacks like,” said Batch. “This is what it’s about, that is why you walk through it and then go through live drills. Overall it was good.”
So far the plays have mostly been scripted, but as time moves along the quarterbacks will be able to make calls.
“You are talking 90 percent may have been scripted but there are alerts,” said Batch. “That was just the first day. The next time we go out there it will probably all be on the quarterback.”
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Todd Haley
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The normally loud and rambunctious Steelers locker room was almost silent on Monday. Players were given the day off, a chance to spend a little extra time with their families as part of the Christmas holiday and to rest their tired bodies after playing two games in six days.
Some players did come in, getting treatment and hitting the weight room. But as the day wore on, the locker room was almost a ghost town, with the exception of two individuals, quietly talking while playing an intense game of pool.
“I won,” Charlie Batch proudly said afterward. “I beat (General Manager) Kevin Colbert. We try to get one in per day. I get the best of him sometimes. I am leading him right now.”
Batch’s success should come as no surprise. After all, he is on a hot streak. Batch led the Steelers to a 27-0 win over the St. Louis Rams at Heinz Field on Saturday, and afterwards scored big with families in need that he played a “Secret Santa” for. It was only fitting that he came out on top in pool.
The hope now is, if Batch is needed this week against the Cleveland Browns that things will continue to go his way.
Ben Roethlisberger was unable to start against the Rams, still battling a high ankle sprain suffered in the last meeting against the Browns. Batch doesn’t know what to expect this week, whether it will be him or Roethlisberger.
Last week he got the majority of the snaps with the first team, finding out late in the week he would start. Whether that’s the case this week or not he will approach things the same way he always does.
“I go in every week preparing that way, as if I am going to be the starter,” said Batch. “The only difference is the physical reps you get during the course of the week. I think for me any time you get an opportunity to practice with the starters that is great. Ben normally takes the reps with the starters, I get the scout team. Any reps you get with the starters you have to welcome that.
“That is the only difference during the week. I won’t know until the week goes along what is going to happen, but I will prepare the same way.”
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch
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Charlie Batch led the Steelers to a 27-0 win over the St. Louis Rams at Heinz Field on Saturday, Christmas Eve. About an hour after the game ended and everyone was heading home, it was time for Batch to play Santa.
What has become a yearly tradition continued this year when Batch delivered toys to 20 families in Homestead and the surrounding areas.
Batch got help collecting those toys when he hosted his annual Batch of Toys drive through his Best of the Batch Foundation.
The toys were distributed to local women’s shelters, the Salvation Army and to the families that Batch gets to be a “Secret Santa” for.
“To be able to deliver those toys is what says it all,” said Batch. “The smiles are unbelievable when you are delivering the toys. You knock on the door and the mother comes down, the kids peek out to see who is at the door. They are surprised to see me. I am just there to drop off the toys to them.”
It’s more than toys he delivers, though. He delivers what truly is the Christmas spirit.
“Whenever you see the parents they start crying,” said Batch. “They give you a big hug to thank you. It’s about understanding how special that moment is. They tell you that without the toys they wouldn’t be able to give their kids a Christmas.
“I am an emotional person. You try to stay strong and then you are like I have to go and you are wiping your eyes as you walk away. Those are things you see. That is one of the moments you live for.”
Tags: Charlie Batch
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Can you talk about the play early on that you ducked out of a sack and dumped the ball off to Rashard Mendenhall? Did you feel like Ben Roethlisberger on the play?
Actually I didn’t see the guy behind me. I knew that there was a little bit of slippage on the right hand side so I was looking to avoid one guy, and it turned out to be two. I ended up coming out and saw Rashard on a flat route. He did a really good job getting up field and was able to make a really good play out of nothing. It turned from being a negative play to a positive play, and it was able to kind of get us going in that game.
How did you feel that you did overall?
I thought that I did OK, we won, obviously, I would like to have the interception back. That is something that you can’t do in turning the football over. Yes, we scored 27 points, but we had opportunities to put 35 points on the board, we just weren’t able to get it in the end zone during that time. There is always room for improvement.
How often have you taken snaps from Trai Essex, and how did he play?
Trai played phenomenal. He never really played center, but he trained himself to become a center just in case he needed to be called upon. He did a really good job on the scout team playing center, and that was something that I was able to work with him over the course of the last three to four months. Now to come into a situation that he did, it really was great because I’m used to him. He was able to identify everything that he needed to identify and keep everything moving. It was phenomenal.
Does it make you feel good to do this in a city that you have been so much associated with, and to keep this team moving in the right direction for the playoffs?
It is something that everybody on this team looks for and takes the opportunity, because Coach Tomlin always calls out a new guy during a team meeting and says here is your opportunity, shine. Nobody wants to let this team down. For me it was the same way, you just go out there when your number is called and now you have to perform. One thing about it is we just try to keep the ball rolling, whoever is in there. If I get my number called I just go out there and do whatever I need to do to help this team get a win.
When you go that long between starts, do you know what you have left in you, or do you find out as you go out there?
Going through practice you are being evaluated by the head coach, because you are going against the starting defense. Even though we don’t watch the film the next morning, the head coach is watching it. So we are being evaluated that way. For him to ultimately make a decision moving forward, he is able to put film on of seeing this guy practice, now we just have to see if he can transition over into the games. That’s something for me, you go through the periods of time without starting, but you still welcome those opportunities. It’s a lot easier when you know you are going to start during the week, even though in this case I didn’t. Going in as the back-up, Ben takes all the snaps, and if something happens in the game, third and twelve, you have to go in and complete a pass after sitting for two hours. That is the part of the job description that is the dirty part of the job. I’m not complaining, that is just part of my job, and if I get called upon this team feels that I am capable of doing the job and that feels great.
What did it mean to you to hear the crowd chanting your name?
It felt great, because I don’t get the opportunities that much. My last game was the Baltimore game here last year, and we lost. That is still stuck in my mind, because that was my last start. We had an opportunity to win that game and we didn’t. You just don’t know when it is going to happen again. To come out here and get the start at home it was great, because I think that they have appreciated what I have done, and what I am doing to help this team win. I embraced it, it was a special moment.
Hines is so close to a milestone. How aware are you guys during the flow of the game, or when you guys are calling plays, about getting 86 the ball?
You can, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t get so in tuned trying to get Hines Ward the ball, especially because they are sending double teams to Hines, because on third down, he’s our guy. He has been that way his whole career. So, you’re conscious of it, but you just have to lead your reads take you where they take you. But I know he’s close, and I’m sure you will all talk about it this week.
Are you hoping to start next week?
Right now, I don’t know because I thought I was going to start last week. Every week is different. Would I want to start? Absolutely I would want to start next week. I don’t know how everything is going to shake out. I don’t know how Ben’s ankle is going to be. Ben might say I need some reps before we head into the playoffs. Ultimately, it is up to Coach Tomlin and Ben to make that decision. I think now that we have four, five days off, Coach might say lets wait till Thursday or Friday of next week to allow Ben to make the decision whether or not to start.
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