Leftwich takes first-team snaps

Updated: April 30, 2010, 2:03 PM ET
By James Walker | ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- With two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger currently banned from team activities, Byron Leftwich took the first-team snaps at the start of the Pittsburgh Steelers' veteran minicamp Friday.

Roethlisberger faces a conditional six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. The penalty can be reduced to four games if he successfully completes the league-mandated behavior program. But, either way, the Steelers will have a new quarterback under center in September.

On Friday, it appears Leftwich is getting the first chance to win the job, although a firm decision likely won't be made until after training camp.

"When you like an offense, you never forget it," said Leftwich, who last played in Pittsburgh in 2008. "And I always liked this offense. ... I never really forgot it. It's just now getting back into calling it, saying it and doing it."

Third-year quarterback Dennis Dixon played with the second team Friday. Dixon made his first career start in place of Roethlisberger last November during a 20-17 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He threw for 145 yards, with two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) and an interception.

After practice, Dixon said he's fine with being on the second team and is looking forward to competing for the starting job this offseason.

"As long as I have a job, and as long as I have a position out there, I'm happy," Dixon said. "I'm preparing the same way."

James Walker covers the AFC North for ESPN.com.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

ALSO SEE