It was a first day of school of sorts for not just Justin Gilbert but Zach Mettenberger, who the Pittsburgh Steelers claimed off waivers last week. And today was the first time the media got to say hello.
Despite being the clear #3 quarterback, he understand he has to be ready at a moment’s notice now that he’s on a team who played their #3 last season.
“You see it every year,” he told reporters. “Different team it seems like every year gets into some health problems at quarterback. It’s part of the game. For me, to help this team, I got to be 100% mentally ready at any given moment. And that includes Monday.”
Monday, which, – oh yeah – is the Steelers’ first regular season game, a note that has almost gotten lost in the shuffle among the trades, injuries, and roster moves.
Mettenberger will serve as a weekly inactive unless – until? – there’s an injury. But should that happen, he’ll be elevated into the backup spot, a play away from being tossed into the game.
He does boast some NFL experience. The numbers just aren’t pretty. Ten starts, ten losses, with more interceptions than touchdowns.
But he’s in a new home and surrounded by several great offensive minds.
“Obviously Coach Haley comes with very high regard in this league. He’s a very well known offensive coordinator. I was excited to get the opportunity to work with him. Meeting with him the last couple days, it’s been fun. Ben’s an extremely hard worker. I’m looking forward to just being a sponge around him out there.”
That began today with Mettenberger wearing Ben Roethlisberger’s #7 – a tiny bit of hazing for the new guy – though Mettenberger admitted there was “nothing he could offer” to convince Big Ben to permanently give away his number.
The goal isn’t to get Mettenberger to be the next Roethlisberger. But if he can be a useful backup, even over just these next two years, it was a wise move for the Steelers.