Mason Rudolph was in for a big of a rude awakening yesterday when he took the practice field for the first time as the number three quarterback in preparation for a meaningful game. The rookie, working behind Ben Roethlisberger and second-year Joshua Dobbs, the latter newly anointed as the team’s backup at the position, recently discovered the universal truth that reserve quarterbacks don’t get jack squat in terms of reps.
Chris Adamski spoke to the third-round draft pick yesterday as the Steelers opened practice for the first time since they trimmed their roster down to 53 players, sans one quarterback by the name of Landry Jones. The beat writer Tweeted that Rudolph admitted he was “sort of taken aback by how few reps he got in practice”.
Mason Rudolph mentioned how he was sort of taken aback by how few reps he got in practice (his 1st in an NFL reg season).
Which is why keeping 4 QBs wasn’t going to happen – hard enough getting 3 guys practice reps.
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 3, 2018
And with a novice direct backup quarterback this season in Dobbs, that is not going to change. All year. While Roethlisberger, as a 36-year-old veteran, has set up a work week schedule that includes built-in time off for recuperation, the fact of the matter is that Dobbs is going to take as many reps as he humanly can. The only reps Rudolph will get are whatever is run simultaneously with another rep while Roethlisberger is watching from the sidelines.
Perhaps he should read what he said back in May soon after the Steelers drafted him. He sat down for an interview with the team’s website and was asked about how he would handle working without getting many reps.
“I know what I do, I know how to prepare, I know the way I lead, the way I am in the room”, he said. “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. We’ll see”.
Perhaps he knows how he is accustomed to preparing, but he surely was not familiar with just how it works in the NFL by the time the regular season begins. There are no reps to spare, and the ones who are going to be playing and dressing are going to get all the attention.
Rudolph will have to be a sponge, absorbing information without actually getting to do much at all. To that end, he also ought to lean on Dobbs, who went through exactly the same situation last year as the rookie number three quarterback, going from college starter to afterthought.
Dobbs also spoke to the team’s website, back in February, and admitted that “it was honestly tough” being an observer rather than a contributor. Whatever work he did get, much of it required making the effort himself to find.
Back in April before the draft, he talked about spending a lot of time after practice, during which he worked with Marcus Tucker and Justin Thomas, the two wide receivers who were on the practice squad, just to get extra reps. Antonio Brown and others also participated in the impromptu work.
Rudolph talked a lot about the sort of help that Jones was to him during his rookie offseason. Now it’s time for him to learn to lean on Dobbs, especially drawing on his experiences from the season prior, about how to keep yourself sharp physically and mentally from deep on the bench.