Even though he understands there is a clear ceiling as to how high he can climb this summer, second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph is biding his time before he gets the chance to get back to Latrobe, where he plans to show off his development and earn his place as the backup this season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers actually traded up a few spots in the third round in order to draft him last year, because they reached a point at which they felt the value was too great to pass up on. They already had three quarterbacks they were happy with, but they had a first-round grade on him and saw him as a prospect who could have a legitimate shot of being a successor to Ben Roethlisberger.
The first step toward achieving that, of course, is to spend more time working under him, and dressing on game days. Right now, Joshua Dobbs is the clipboard man, and that is the job that Rudolph has his sights set on.
As a rookie, he did not have a great camp, and his preseason was fairly pedestrian overall with little production, even though he got a sizable amount of playing time. He expects the year of experience to make a world of difference, however.
“I’m just excited to get to Latrobe the second time around. You know how everything works. It’s going to be 100 times better”, he said earlier this week about looking ahead to training camp. “It’s just going to be fun to throw the ball and have real practices”.
“I keep getting kind of pissed” in OTA practices he said. “They’re dropping eight a lot because we can’t run the ball in these periods, so you get frustrated and you have to check balls down, but that’s kind of what, you have to play that game. And then you get to Latrobe and you finally put the pads on, run a little bit, get some play action flowing, so that’ll be a lot better”.
Rudolph wasn’t thrilled about sitting on the bench all year in street clothes, but he understood the situation and did his best to make the most of it. He still felt that he could have played if he had to for an organization without a starter, and said he would have been comfortable by the end of the season if he had to step in.
For now, though, he is appreciating the opportunity to get more reps with the first-team unit than he ever has before, especially with the starting offensive line. He had positive things to say about the young wide receivers, and talked about his focus on ball security and speeding things up in the red zone.
One thing that has never been in question about Rudolph has been his demeanor. He has the look and sound of a future starter, but he has to prove that on the field first. And there’s nothing more he’s looking forward to than doing just that.