From April to September, it was a tense time for Joshua Dobbs, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-year quarterback. That’s because the former fourth-round pick was well aware of how vulnerable his spot on the 53-man roster had become after the team used a third-round selection in April of 2018 on Mason Rudolph at the quarterback position.
Dobbs spent his rookie year in 2017 as the third-string quarterback, routinely an inactive in that capacity with Landry Jones as the backup. The vast majority anticipated that Jones would remain the backup with Rudolph as the number three as a rookie before becoming the backup in his second season.
Of course, we know how things played out. Dobbs was given a healthy chunk of the preseason reps and showed the coaching staff enough within that work to feel comfortable going into the year with him as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup, and Jones being released after five seasons. And he did have to play a couple of times. Or rather, get to play.
“It’s fun to get out there on the field, playing the sport you love in any capacity. I really enjoy it”, he told the team’s website recently. “The quarterback position, only one guy plays so sometimes your opportunities could be scarce”.
“You never know when you’re going to get your opportunity. You have to be prepared, train, practice as if you are going to play, and play like you’re going to play Sunday out. It’s always a blessing to step on the field to do what you love”.
While he had taken a couple of knees before that, Dobbs’ first opportunity to take the field with the offense in a meaningful situation came in Week Nine against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers were backed up in their own end facing a second and long when Roethlisberger got nicked.
The quarterback had to sit out for a play, but Dobbs would drop back to pass and find JuJu Smith-Schuster for 22 yards and a first down. Raven safety Eric Weddle after the game said that he played the play ‘too well’, to the point that he never expected the throw to come.
“It all happened so fast I really didn’t even get time to think about what was going on,”, he said of that experience. “It was kind of just like practice like when they say, ‘Josh you’re up for your rep, go play’. At that point the thinking is not there, you’re playing football and you’re reacting”.
He also briefly played a week later in a blowout victory against the Carolina Panthers in which he completed one of two passes, which went for negative yardage, but his only extensive playing time came in Week 14 against the Oakland Raiders.
There he would struggle, completing only four of nine passes for 24 yards, with two scrambles for 15 yards, as the offense became anemic. Roethlisberger suffered an injury regarding which the team did not get enough clearance to immediately reinsert him, but he did once the Steelers lost the lead.