Michael Vick

Michael Vick: Can QB Win Games In Ben’s Absence?

Michael Vick was supposed to spend this year watching Ben Roethlisberger continue to add to what might be a Hall of Fame career from his seat on the sidelines when he signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers in August.

Instead, an injury Roethlisberger sustained Sunday against the St. Louis Rams has suddenly thrust Vick back into the limelight — and the starting role — for the Steelers for the next month.

On Sunday, Roethlisberger was diagnosed with a sprained MCL in his left knee, ESPN reported. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin did not provide specifics, but a team source divulged Pittsburgh planned to be without its starting quarterback for four to six weeks.

The injury occurred in the third quarter during a 12-6 Steelers victory Sunday. Entering the game with a 9-3 lead, Vick finished the game completing five of six passes for 38 yards. Michael also carried the ball twice for a loss of two yards as the Steelers attempted to run out the clock on the Rams.

Pittsburgh tackle Ramon Foster said Vick remained calm in his limited duty Sunday against the Rams, and he expected more of the same from Michael, the Washington Post reported.

“He’s coming into a team that has a chance to be really special. He’s not trying to be a rah-rah guy, pushing to win the locker room over or anything like that. He’s been under the radar. He’s been a good teammate.”

The Pittsburgh schedule will do no favors to Vick in his return a starting role. Michael faces the Baltimore Ravens in less than a week on Thursday, giving his return to the first team a prime-time spotlight against an as-usual stout defense. Baltimore features a game between fierce rivals, so the winless Ravens can’t be looked past for the Steelers or their new quarterback.

After that, a Monday Night Football showdown against the San Diego Chargers could see two teams looking to break .500 on October 12. Then two of the next three games feature teams currently undefeated, including a divisional match-up for Michael against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Signing Michael Vick did not come without controversy. Michael was indicted in April 2007 on a felony offense for operating a dog-fighting ring, and in December began serving a 23-month prison sentence. He was released from prison in 2009.

Vick has ultimately expressed his regrets over the dog-fighting incident that led to his incarceration and felony conviction. Since re-entering society, he has been active with the Humane Society, the Dispatch Times reported. On the playing field, he earned the NFL’s 2010 Comeback Player of the Year award.

Michael Vick
Michael Vick attempting a pass against the St. Louis Rams Sunday, September 27.

The 35-year-old journeyman quarterback came to Pittsburgh from the New York Jets as a backup, and the team has faced irate fans and pet lovers since adding Michael to the roster. Included in that backlash from fans was an Animal Rescue League event being pulled from the Heinz Field lineup due to the team’s signing of Michael Vick, NBC Sports reported.

Fans immediately started a petition for the Pittsburgh Steelers to terminate his contract. At nearly 35,000 signatures, the petition uses strong, direct language aimed at Michael Vick and bases their demands off his prior unethical treatment of animals.

“Michael Vick is a convicted felon and no-class piece of crap. He is also a terrible QB which is why he has no team. Let’s unite as Steelers fans – as NFL fans – and stop him from playing on our team! Steelers fans united! Sign to keep Vick from ever wearing the coveted Steelers uniform!!”

What record do you think Michael Vick will lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to during Big Ben’s absence? Leave your guesses in the comment section below.

[Images by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]