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Steelers sign Vick to fill QB need

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PITTSBURGH — Injuries to backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski prompted the Pittsburgh Steelers to go hunting for another veteran backup and they settled on Michael Vick.

Vick, 35, went through a physical and workout in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Gradkowski, the backup to Ben Roethlisberger the past two seasons, had surgery on his left hand Tuesday and faces possible surgery on his right shoulder. Both were hurt in Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.

“Bruce has missed a lot of time throughout the preseason, and now with this injury and not having any timetable at this juncture for his return, we thought it was prudent” to bring Vick in,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

“There’s not a throw on the field he can’t make from an arm-strength standpoint. He’s a very experienced guy at what he does at this point in his career. And obviously the mobility is still unique even at 35.

“As a professional, I have a great deal of respect for him and what he’s capable of. I spent a lot of time in the NFC South against him when I was secondary coach of the Bucs and he was the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, and a lot of sleepless nights obviously in preparation for those matchups.”

The Steelers also have quarterback Landry Jones, whom they drafted in the fourth round in 2013 and has gotten extensive work in games and practices this summer with Gradkowski out. However, they do not believe he is quite ready to be No. 2 yet.

“For me, it’s about any way, any person, anything who can help this team,” Roethlisberger said of Vick’s arrival. “If that’s Michael Vick, then so be it.

“It’s undeniable the athlete he is and the quarterback he is, especially in Atlanta and the things he did. I know a lot of guys growing up wanted to be Michael Vick because he was a splash, exciting football player.”

Vick helped the New York Jets upset the Steelers last November. He threw two touchdown passes in their 20-13 victory and also ran eight times for 39 yards.

The Jets were Vick’s third NFL team in 12 seasons, interrupted by a 21-month stay in federal prison for his conviction on dog fighting charges.

PETA issued a statement from senior vice president Lisa Lange on the possibility that Vick will join the Steelers:

“As long as he’s throwing a football and not electrocuting a dog, PETA is pleased he is focused on his game,” she said.

Vick played 10 games with the Jets last year and had a 68.3 passer rating. He had 289 yards rushing and a 9.3-yard average per carry. In 12 seasons since Vick broke in with the Falcons, he has an 80.4 passer rating, completing 56.1 percent of his passes for 22,093 yards. He also has rushed for 6,010 yards, including 1,039 yards in 2006 with Atlanta.


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