Bruce Gradkowski became the first Steelers quarterback this season to lead the team onto the field at Heinz Field.
Even if it was only June.
But he understands it could happen again in November. Or even January.
“That's true,” Gradkowski said. “In this game, you never know what is going to happen.”
With Ben Roethlisberger recovering from minor surgery on his right knee, Gradkowski took most of the snaps with the starters Thursday during the Steelers' only scheduled practice this offseason at Heinz Field.
For Gradkowski, a former Seton-La Salle star who is with his fifth team in seven seasons, it was a rare opportunity to run the starting offense. That won't happen much during training camp, not as long as there are no complications from the second right knee operation of Roethlisberger's career.
For the Steelers, it was a chance to further weigh the offseason decision they made to shed their two longtime backup quarterbacks, Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, and go younger with the 30-year-old Gradkowski and 24-year-old Landry Jones, a fourth-round draft pick from Oklahoma.
The oft-injured Leftwich, 33, had been with the Steelers for four of the previous five seasons, while Batch, 38, had been with them for 10 seasons. All three Steelers QBs started at least once last season.
“I don't know if there was a point where you felt this just wasn't working anymore,” quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner said. “They have given us some very good reps here. They have been great complements to Ben, to me and our offense.”
Fichtner said it was time to “freshen up the (quarterbacks) room.”
Gradkowski is glad they did it with another former Pittsburgh-area high school player, just like Batch was.