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Josh Dobbs Could Start Steelers’ Preseason Opener

Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

Former Vol quarterback Josh Dobbs could get the nod to start the preseason opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers in much the same way he earned his first start for the Vols as a freshman: everyone in front of him is injured.

Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, isn’t expected to play on Friday when the Steelers open up their preseason schedule against the New York Giants. And second string quarterback Landry Jones has been dealing with an abdomen injury. So according to Gene Collier of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dobbs is in line to start for the Steelers in their prseason opener.

Dobbs had been practicing with the first team offense last week, and Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin liked what he saw from his rookie quarterback.

“I thought he took advantage of the reps,” Tomlin said after practice on Thursday. “He’s taken some calculated risks associated with the position, pushing the ball down the grass, which is good.

“He’ll get opportunities to not only prove himself, but to grow. And I think that was reflected in his effort today.”

Roethlisberger is the undoubted starter for the Steelers when he’s healthy. But a strong showing for Dobbs in a start against the Giants could put more pressure on backup Landry Jones. Right now it appears Jones has a firm grip on the main backup spot behind Roethlisberger, but Dobbs could make that grip a little less sure with a quality outing on Friday.

If Dobbs does get the start on Friday, he’ll have earned it much like he did his first ever start as a Vol back in 2013. Starting quarterback Justin Worley got injured during Tennessee’s game against Alabama, and both Nathan Peterman and Riley Ferguson were already injured from practice earlier that week. So Dobbs, as a true freshman, filled in for Worley in that game and ended up making his first career start a week later.

Starting in the preseason won’t go on Dobb’s career stat sheet. But it is a good way for the former Vol to make some early noise very early in his NFL career.

As a side note, Mike Tomilin also had some praise for another former Vol on the Steelers’ roster, wide receiver Justin Hunter.

“He’s making a lot of plays and doing a good job,” Tomlin said of Hunter. “But he’s a veteran football player. I think we remember that although he is new to us, he’s going into his fifth year here in the National Football League, and it shows from time to time.”

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