If anybody knows what Michael Vick is feeling right now, it’s Charlie Batch, who backed up Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh for nine seasons. Yes, when Big Ben goes down, the backup must produce – and Batch did that numerous times in his career.
Vick, who will lead the Steelers (2-1) against the Ravens (0-3) on Thursday, has bounced around the league the last couple of seasons, but he still has what it takes to be successful. What can we expect from the 35-year-old?
“Right now, they’ve been working all week on trying to get the terminology down,” Batch said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “And of course if you’re a backup in this situation, you would love to have a full week of preparation, but he’s only been here a month and here he is four weeks later in the starting lineup. He’s been working hard this week trying to just grasp everything. They’ve been working on things that he’s comfortable with, and if he’s not (comfortable with it), they’re just taking it out until he gets to that point. Next week, of course, will be a little bit better, but right now it’s just a matter of how fast can he grasp the terminology? Worst-case scenario, you have Le’Veon Bell back there and DeAngelo Williams. Just hand the ball off to them if they don’t have it.”
Expect the Steelers to utilize Vick’s legs – not necessarily on quarterback draws, but just to get him outside the pocket and make him feel comfortable. The biggest challenge for Vick, who has always had a reputation for being a high-risk, high-reward player, might simply be to play within the offense and not put too much pressure on himself.
“Absolutely,” Batch said. “And we know he’s done this before. He’s done it a long time. But when you look at this, of course you want him on the move. You know he’s great at doing that. The problem is, there’s going to be a conversation between Coach Tomlin and Mike Vick today – if it hasn’t occurred already – to say, ‘Listen, I’m okay with you using your feet, but you ned to protect yourself. I don’t have much behind you, so I can’t afford for you to get hurt. If that means (sacrificing) your completion percentage by throwing the ball away, I’m okay with doing that if we’re able to get the win today.’”
Batch spent more than a decade in Pittsburgh, during which he earned the trust and respect of his teammates. Vick, however, rolled into town just over a month ago.
Still, Batch expects the Steelers to rally around the former No. 1 overall pick.
“All of these guys remember him from playing Madden,” Batch said, laughing. “Now that he’s on this team, half of the locker room was there last year when they played the Jets and he was able to beat the Steelers last year, but now there’s a new group of guys. Guys are excited. They’re going to rally around him. They’re big Vick fans. The organization brought him in here for a reason. This is the worst possible situation. You never want an injury to occur to to anybody, but right now, this is Michael Vick’s show and they know they’re going to need him for the next month. However and whatever ways they need to get him comfortable, they’re willing to do that.”