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Bruce Gradkowski preps to sub for Ben Roethlisberger

  • By Kevin Patra NFL.com
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With Ben Roethlisberger out after undergoing right knee surgery Wednesday, backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is preparing to lead the reloading Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Given Big Ben's track record -- he has played a full 16-game slate once in nine seasons -- there is a good chance at least one of the backup signal-callers will see time during the season.

"That's true," Gradkowski said, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "In this game, you never know what is going to happen."

The 30-year-old Gradkowski and 24-year-old rookie Landry Jones make up the Steelers' revamped quarterback corps, after the team parted ways with Byron Leftwich and longtime backup Charlie Batch.

It was time to "freshen up the (quarterbacks) room," quarterback coach Randy Fichtner said of the swaps.

Roethlisberger's injury actually could be beneficial for the two new quarterbacks. Gradkowski is getting the first-team reps during organized team activities, and Jones should see more snaps during the offseason, which will only benefit the former Oklahoma player.

"As a backup, you have to prepare as the starter, even harder," Gradkowski said of how he approaches the season. "You know you aren't going to get those reps in practice. You just mentally have to be prepared, and when your time is called you try to take advantage of the opportunity."

Gradkowski is a capable backup, but he won't win the Steelers any games the way Roethlisberger can. Some view Jones as the eventual replacement for Big Ben, and while the added reps won't hurt, he still is a long way from being ready to step into that role.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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