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Steelers reacquire QB Leftwich as Roethlisberger insurance policy

The Steelers reacquired quarterback Byron Leftwich on Tuesday by trading a seventh-round draft pick (225th overall) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- a sign that Pittsburgh expects starter Ben Roethlisberger to be suspended for the start of the 2010 season.

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Leftwich backed up Roethlisberger during the 2008 season, when the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Leftwich knows offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' system and could be ready to play Sept. 12 when the Steelers open next season against the Atlanta Falcons, one of the quarterback's former teams.

The Steelers play three teams that didn't make the playoffs last season -- the Falcons, Bucs and Tennessee Titans -- plus the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens in their first four games, a period that could span any Roethlisberger suspension.

The Steelers also have longtime backup Charlie Batch and third-year pro Dennis Dixon under contract at quarterback. Batch has been injured each of the past two seasons. Dixon has started only one NFL game, but he likely would compete with Leftwich in training camp to be the early season starter if Roethlisberger is suspended.

The Steelers expect to learn Wednesday if Roethlisberger will be suspended for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy, the *Pittsburgh Post-Gazette* reported. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday that he will make a decision on Roethlisberger's status "as soon as I possibly can."

Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female college student in a Georgia nightclub last month, but he will not face criminal charges.

Leftwich, 30, played in five games for the Steelers in 2008, throwing for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 7 of 10 passes for 129 yards and one touchdown while replacing an injured Roethlisberger during a game against the Washington Redskins.

Leftwich played for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted him seventh overall, from 2003 to 2006. He then joined the Falcons in 2007, the Steelers in 2008 and the Bucs last season.

Leftwich started Tampa Bay's first three games in 2009 before Josh Johnson replaced him. Leftwich completed 58 of 107 passes for 594 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions before being placed on injured reserve with an elbow issue.

Tuesday's trade leaves the Steelerswith 10 draft picks, including one in the seventh round -- the compensatory selection they received for the Bucs signing Leftwich last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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