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Steelers again turn to ageless Batch

Steelers again turn to ageless Batch

PITTSBURGH (AP) Mike Wallace is in his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, so the wide receiver is familiar with all this talk about Charlie Batch.

Asked if it was at all concerning that the man throwing the ball to him on Sunday will soon be 38 years old, Wallace shrugged.

``He's been old,'' he said of Batch. ``It's not like he just got old. Chuck's been old since I got here, so it's nothing new.''

Neither is Batch making a fill-in start for his hometown Steelers (6-4), who are at Cleveland (2-8) this weekend. For the eighth time since he signed with Pittsburgh 11 years ago, Batch will be under center to begin a game for the Steelers.

No Steeler is older than Batch, whose birthday is Dec. 5. He spent the first four years of his career with Detroit, but only nose tackle Casey Hampton was with Pittsburgh before Batch arrived.

``They say Charlie built the building,'' guard Willie Colon deadpanned. ``That's what I heard.''

Teammates might enjoy yukking it up when it comes to Batch's age, but they're happy they have him and more content than could be reasonably expected for an NFL team down to its third-string quarterback.

``I feel comfortable with Charlie,'' Wallace said. ``I feel like he can lead us to victory any game he plays in. Just two years ago when we played with him the first four games we were 3-1 so I'm excited about having Chuck out there.''

Batch started two of those early season games while Ben Roethlisberger served a four-game suspension and Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon sat out with injuries.

This season, Roethlisberger and Leftwich both have rib injuries. Leftwich relieved Roethlisberger two weeks ago in a win over Kansas City and started this past Sunday's loss to Baltimore.

With most other teams, dropping down to the third-string QB - if they even have one - more often than not means an inexperienced rookie. With the Steelers, it means one of the most tenured quarterbacks in the NFL.

``Charlie's a well-rounded quarterback who's ... comfortable running the majority of our offense,'' offensive coordinator Todd Haley said. ``He's a veteran savvy guy who's an accurate thrower, short and long.''

In his most recent game, Batch completed 15 of 22 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown in a 27-0 win over St. Louis last Christmas Eve. He is 5-2 as a starter with the Steelers, and one of his losses was a meaningless outing in the 2007 season finale when Pittsburgh's playoff seeding was wrapped up.

In recent years, Batch seemingly enters every training camp as - at best - No. 3 on the depth chart, and there are whispers his roster spot is tenuous.

Then usually every year, he starts at least one game and excels.

``These opportunities don't come often anymore,'' Batch said. ``And here I am, getting up there in years. When you have this opportunity you cherish it.''

Batch, who said he had one of his better training camps, joked he's ``doing it for all the 38-year-olds.''

Some of the best quarterbacks in the game (Peyton Manning, 36, and Tom Brady, 35) are close to Batch's age. The 37-year-old Matt Hasselbeck passed for 290 yards in beating the Steelers last month. Brett Favre was 41 when he played his final game - 40 when he had an MVP-caliber season with the Minnesota Vikings.

``Charlie is Charlie,'' receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. ``He's very smart, and he takes pride in the minor details of his job.''

Wallace said Batch regularly asks more questions than anyone in the offensive meeting room, and several players refer to the quarterback as the proverbial ``coach on the field.''

That prompted Haley to say, half-jokingly, ``We've got to teach him the art of not over-coaching.''

The only other healthy quarterback on Pittsburgh's roster is Brian Hoyer, signed Tuesday. While Haley and teammates have marveled at Hoyer's intelligence and ability to pick up the offense quickly, the Steelers need Batch to stay healthy.

``Right now,'' Batch said, ``I'm that guy and there's no telling how long I'll have this position. It could be one week, it could be two or three. I don't know. But either way, you just go week to week and not worry about what's going to happen after the fact.''

With 53 career starts, 78 games and 1,534 pass attempts, Batch thinks he's prepared for Sunday.

The only adjustment Batch said he wants to make is the timing of the play clock and interpreting Haley's play call while in the huddle to get it out to the rest of the offense.

More than 14 years after his first NFL start, Batch this week has had the butterflies associated with being eager for game day.

``I still get excited about it because these opportunities don't come much,'' he said. ``Right now, I know I have at least one other one.''

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Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: Looks like Baltimore's getting a new wide receiver

Ravens Mock Draft Roundup: Looks like Baltimore's getting a new wide receiver

This is it. It’s finally the week of the 2017 NFL Draft, signaling the end to all of the mock drafts and educated guesses about which move your favorite team will make in the first round.

As for the Baltimore Ravens, there are a number of different directions they could go — add some youth to their receivers, buff up their defensive line or pull a move that could surprise everyone.

With the countdown to the NFL Draft now down to days, here’s a look at which players draft experts and analysts think the Ravens will take with their No. 16 first-round pick.

 

Corey Davis, WR from Western Michigan

Ben Standig, CSN Mid-Atlantic: He argues the Ravens need to prioritize their receiving unit to give Joe Flacco more consistent opens.

“The 6-foot-3 Davis wasn't just a receiver in 2016. We're talking playmaking monster after catching 97 passes for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns.”

But he also offers up the idea of an edge rusher for the Ravens too.

See Ben Standig's complete 2017 NFL Mock Draft 10.0

Chris Wormley, DE from Michigan

Cameron DaSilva, FOX Sports: Although he asserts Wormley deserves to be a first-round pick somewhere, the Raven’s No. 16 pick could be a bit too high but thinking he’ll still be around by the team’s second-round pick at 47 is “risky.”

“Often overshadowed by other playmakers on Michigan’s defense (Taco Charlton, Jabrill Peppers), Wormley is a great player in his own right, and fits perfectly as a 3-4 defensive end. He can eat up blocks on the edge for Terrell Suggs and Baltimore’s other dynamic pass rushers, while also generating pressure himself.”

Mike Williams, WR from Clemson

Rob Rang, CBS Sports: With the losses of Steve Smith, Sr. and Kamar Aiken, he’s not the only one to point out the Ravens need someone Flacco can rely on, and Williams might be it.

“The Ravens need help at edge rusher and offensive tackle, as well, but general manager Ozzie Newsome may have a hard time letting a prototypical split end like the 6-4, 218-pound Williams slip any further. His ability to box out defenders and win contested passes could make him a quick favorite for Joe Flacco…”

Corey Davis, WR form Western Michigan

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: His argument is quite simple.

“At some point, they have to get Joe Flacco more help outside. This is a player who will end up being the best receiver in this class.”

Cam Robinson, OT from Alabama

Chad Reuter, NFL.com: No matter what’s left by the time the Ravens’ pick rolls around, he argues Baltimore will find someone for the O-Line.

“If Buffalo takes this physically dominant tackle from Alabama at 10, then Ozzie Newsome will find another bargain here.”

 O.J. Howard, TE from Alabama 

Evan Silva, Yahoo Sports: In a year of stand-out tight ends, he asserts this might be the right move for the Ravens.

"Tight ends ordinarily do not make first-year impacts, and the depth of the class could work against the top-end talents. At No. 16, however, I think Howard would be too appealing for GM Ozzie Newsome to pass. 2015 second-round pick Maxx Williams has been a colossal disappointment, and Dennis Pitta is on his last legs. Howard is the pro-readiest tight end in this class." 

John Ross, WR from Washington

Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report: His point is to basically have the Ravens strengthen their offense so it’s reliable and they can leave it alone while working to improve other areas.

“So fast. So record-shatteringly fast. Can also run routes and catch and stuff.”

MORE NFL DRAFT: 15 first-round NFL Draft busts

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2017 NFL Mock Draft 10.0: Plenty of questions ahead of draft day

2017 NFL Mock Draft 10.0: Plenty of questions ahead of draft day

The 2017 NFL Draft takes place this Thursday, April 27th.

With just a few days until draft day, we are doing some last-minute edits to our mock draft. 

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST NFL MOCK DRAFT

While the top picks remain all but guaranteed — DEs Myles Garrett and Solomon Thomas — The meat of the first round is where the intrigue is.

Just how high will Texas Tech QB Pat Mahomes go?

Will Christian McCaffrey still be on the board when the Redskins draft at No. 18?

Will Reuben Foster plummet out of the first round?

There are a bevy of questions that need to be answered.

Mock Draft 10.0 answers those questions.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST NFL MOCK DRAFT