The veterans on the Pittsburgh Steelers got their first on-field glimpse of their possible future this past week when rookie third-round quarterback Mason Rudolph joined them for the first week of OTAs. The Oklahoma State quarterback was highly rated by the team, so when he fell to within striking distance in the third round, they traded up to make sure they got him.
He has so far seemed to say all the right things since the Steelers drafted him, but saying and doing are different matters, and this was his first chance to show the established players what he is capable of doing. Not that first impressions during OTAs mean all that much in the long run, but that’s where we are right now, and so that’s what we’ll talk about.
Rudolph, for his own part, felt like he “had a great week” of practices, according to Chris Adamski. He “made some mistakes but made a lot of plays as well”. We heard about some of those mistakes, an overthrow of Roosevelt Nix on a short pass while pressing too much and an underthrow of Antonio Brown on a deep pass similar to one on which he connected with college teammate and fellow rookie James Washington.
“It felt like college all over again”, he said of being able to carry his rapport with Washington over from their college career together to an NFL practice field. The two of them also were able to hook up several times throughout the rookie minicamp weekend. “The chemistry between me and him, we plan on bringing it to this level”.
Rudolph admitted that the coaching staff really threw a lot at him during the first slate of OTAs. “We put a little bit more on my plate”, he told reporters. “It’s just more of the bulk of the offense, so I am trying to soak that in. And I will. It will just take a little bit of time”.
Of course he knows that there is no immediate pressure for him to perform. The Steelers have on the roster an entrenched starting quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger who has already said that he intends for the Mason Rudolph era to have to wait a while.
It’s entirely possible that Rudolph doesn’t even dress for a game during his rookie season if Landry Jones remains Roethlisberger’s backup, which, in the event of that occurring, should not be seen as a terrible sign for his development.
It would be a different story if there were an urgency for him to perform, but the truth is that there isn’t. The Steelers have both a starter and a backup in which they are comfortable, and they even still have Joshua Dobbs returning, who is also looking to compete not only for a roster spot, but for the backup job.