John Parker Wilson has no designs on Ben Roethlisberger’s job.
A job, of any variety really, will be just fine for the fourth-string Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.
The same goes for Curtis Painter, who spent eight mostly painful weeks filling in for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis in 2011 and now finds himself simply trying to extend his career somewhere on the New York Giants’ depth chart behind Eli Manning.
Long after the stars have exited the field during the preseason opener tonight, Wilson and Painter will trot onto it hoping to provide a glimpse of what could still be.
Entering his fifth NFL preseason, the 27-year-old Wilson knows the window of opportunity is closing. He has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game and has spent most of his career bouncing back and forth between the practice squad and the last option on the 53-man roster.
Yet he’s still not ready to head back to Birmingham, Ala., and begin his post-football life. The former starting quarterback for Alabama knows there will be work back home whenever he steps away. He’s not quite there yet.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Wilson said. “I’m focused on football.”
Namely, impressing coach Mike Tomlin enough to keep him around. It won’t be easy. The Steelers signed free agent Bruce Gradkowski to serve as Roethlisberger’s backup and drafted Landry Jones out of Oklahoma in the fourth round.
While the Steelers aren’t nearly ready to call Jones the eventual successor to Roethlisberger, he’ll be given every chance to succeed for a team that values its draft picks perhaps more than any other franchise in the NFL.
That part, Wilson allows, is out of his hands. The only thing he can control is what he puts on tape, both in practice and in games. He’d love to make a great impression tonight. Just don’t expect him to do it by trying to turn himself into a Roethlisberger clone.
PLAXICO Burress to have shoulder surgery
Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress will have surgery on Monday to repair an injury in his right shoulder and is out indefinitely.
Tomlin called the damage to Burress’ shoulder “significant” but declined to specify the exact nature of the injury. ESPN and NFL.com reported Burress has a torn rotator cuff.
Burress landed awkwardly while trying to haul in a pass over cornerback Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith near the end of Thursday’s practice at Saint Vincent College. The 35-year-old Burress remained bent over on the ground for several moments before getting up and walking to the sideline. He was carted off the field and sported a sling over his right shoulder late Thursday evening.
The Steelers, who open the preseason on to night against the New York Giants, had hoped Burress would become the big red zone target they need while tight end Heath Miller recovers from knee surgery.
Burress signed with Pittsburgh last November and caught three passes in limited action. He was battling Jerricho Cotchery, David Gilreath and rookies Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown for a spot behind starters Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.