According to several reports over the course of the last few weeks, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph had a very good showing during the team’s offseason practices. Even Rudolph himself has said as much. Now next up for Rudolph is his first NFL training camp that will get underway five weeks from today in Latrobe. On Wednesday, Rudolph was a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio and at one point during the interview he was asked to reveal his rookie season goals.
“I’d say my goal is day-by-day,” Rudolph said. “Obviously, I’ve set down the road, season goals, I won’t share that with you guys here, but I’d say definitely I want to have a great training camp that’s first and foremost. I want to make sure I’m maximizing my off time here and learning, getting up to speed and staying mentally sharp and then rolling into preseason games. I feel like we’ve got a great group of rookies and I’m looking forward to going out there and performing with those guys on the first NFL stage, even though it is a preseason game.
“Kind of setting myself up and hey, I don’t really know what the Steelers have in store for me, but I’ll tell you what, I sure will be competing to be that number two guy and I’m a competitor, that’s what I want to do. My fastest route to get on the field is number two, so we’ll see. Obviously, there’s some good guys in that room, but that’s the way I’m wired and I want to get on the field and so if that’s going to be only preseason this year, or whenever my number’s called, I’m looking forward to it.”
With Rudolph reportedly putting together a nice set of offseason practices, several people are already speculating that the Oklahoma State product might just be able to overtake veteran quarterback Landry Jones for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart by the time the preseason has ended. While Jones certainly isn’t considered a premier backup quarterback in the league, he still has quite a bit of something that Rudolph doesn’t currently have right now and that’s game experience.
The last time a rookie Steelers quarterback entered the season as the backup to the starter was in 2004 when Ben Roethlisberger opened the regular season as the backup behind then-starter Tommy Maddox. That, however, probably wouldn’t have been the case had Charlie Batch not had an issue with one of his knees during training camp that year. In fact, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has said a few times over the years that the original plan for Roethlisberger after he was drafted was for him to be the No. 3 quarterback during his rookie season.
Prior to Roethlisberger in 2004, you probably have to back to the 60s to find an instance when a Steelers rookie quarterback opened the regular season as the backup. I know this, it wasn’t Terry Bradshaw because he actually opened his 1970 rookie season as the starter.