Beyond the obvious, the speed of the NFL, the complexity of playbooks, the full attention the league demands, there’s one other adjustment most college players have to make. Accepting the role of the backup. In the modern era, first round picks do typically play right away. But mid-rounders, or quarterbacks behind an established players, have to learn to sit, take mental reps, and capitalize on the few chances that are offered. For Mason Rudolph, despite being a star in college, it’s not a new concept.
Sitting down with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews for an interview, Rudolph said he’s been the backup before.
“That’s the way it happened with me through high school and college,” he told Matthews. “There was someone who was the older guy. I waited for my time. In cases,that was not even a year. In this case, it might be longer.”
In 2014, a freshmen at Oklahoma State, Rudolph sat on the bench for most of the year, redshirted until an injury to starter Daxx Garman forced his career to begin earlier than intended. From there, he didn’t look back, becoming the starter in 2015 and for the rest of his career.
It will likely be a couple seasons before Rudolph has the chance to see the field with Ben Roethlisberger saying he feels capable of playing three to five more seasons. While the Steelers view him as #7’s replacement, in the short-term, the focus is on being a quality backup.
In Rudolph’s mind, however, it’s not going to change his approach.
“I know what I do, I know how I prepare, I know the way I lead, the way I am in the room. The kind of work I put in to do what I do. I know it eventually pays off. Whether that’s this year or two years from now. So we’ll see.”
Everything we’ve heard from him so far has been stellar. More than just a good quote, there’s definitely a healthy amount of confidence in his own game, telling Matthews he is going to have an “unbelievable minicamp,” which kicks off this weekend.
Despite that confidence, Rudolph knows there’s a lot he needs to accomplish over these upcoming months.
“My job is to prepare, compete like I’m the starter. Do everything I can to learn the system quick. Set myself up to be effective whenever my name is called. That’s the way I look at it.”