The Pittsburgh Steelers are now winding down their offseason practices this week and that means rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph, the team’s first of two third-round draft picks this year, will have had 15 practices under his belt heading into the team’s annual training camp. Obviously, Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner as been present for every one of Rudolph’s practices dating back to the team’s rookie minicamp and after Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp practice he was asked to give his opinion on the Oklahoma State product.
“Mason’s been everything we’ve asked, for sure,” Fichtner said of Rudolph, according to audio on 93.7 The Fan. “Throws, obviously, a nice ball. The physical things are all there. Obviously, mentally and learning is an acquired taste – it has to come through reps, physical reps, in-helmet perspectives, things that you’re not going to get and it’s not going to happen overnight.”
While Fichtner appears somewhat satisfied with how Rudolph has developed so far during his short time in Pittsburgh, the real tests for the young quarterback will come during training and the preseason. With that said, Rudolph’s reps during training camp will need to be taken full advantage of as he’s not likely to get many of them as long as Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones are both dressed for practices.
While Rudolph might eventually become the heir apparent to Roethlisberger several years from now, Fichtner is in no hurry to rush the veteran into retirement just the same.
“And I just thank God everyday that you still have an opportunity to have a franchise quarterback,” Fichtner said unprovoked after giving his opinion on Rudolph.
It’s long been known that Fichtner has a close relationship with Roethlisberger and probably one that might even rival the one the quarterback has with his former offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians. Because of that close relationship Fichtner has developed with Roethlisberger dating back to 2007, he was asked if that dynamic will need to change a little now that he’s the team’s new offensive coordinator.
“Well, I hope not,” Fichtner said. “The relationship has always been respect, first He knows I’m going to give him an honest day’s work whether Im his quarterback coach, whether I’m his offensive coordinator, whether I’m both, or whether I’m just his friend and I’m not here. I’m going to be his friend for a long time and that’s not gonna change and it’s not going to change whether we win, win ugly, win great, it’s not going to change. We have a communication line. There’s respect there and we’ll move forward with that.”