It won’t be long now before the Pittsburgh Steelers begin rolling into Latrobe, PA to make Saint Vincent College their home away from home for several weeks as the summer winds down. That is when we know that training camp has begun, and with it the first deep breaths of the 2019 NFL season.
Everything that we have experienced up until now, from the re-signings, releases, and trades to the draft and all the way through OTAs and minicamp, has been but a preview, the setup, for what is to come next.
And so we too continue to preview what comes next in a series in which we will highlight several of the battles for roster spots and roles that we expect to see during our time observing in training camp and throughout the preseason.
Up for Grabs: Backup Job
In the Mix: Joshua Dobbs, Mason Rudolph
The Steelers drafted Joshua Dobbs in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He served as the number three quarterback behind Landry Jones during his rookie season. The Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, a move many viewed as the nail in Dobbs’ coffin.
The latter proceeded to impress the coaching staff enough to convince them that he is capable of fulfilling the backup role, which made Jones expendable. The veteran was released, with Dobbs moving into that gameday active role, and the rookie Rudolph watching from the bench.
Now, heading into the 2019 edition of training camp at Saint Vincent College, the two young arms will be competing directly against one another, not for a roster spot, but for the role of backup. The Steelers drafted Rudolph because they saw in him a first-round talent who was capable in the future of starting in the league, so suffice is to say that they believed he would also be capable of being a reasonable backup.
According to spring reports, the two of them shared pretty equitable time running with both the first- and second-team offense. Both of them have also worked a fair bit on their own in the offseason, either by hiring a private coach to train with or getting some teammates or other bodies together to conduct some practices.
I ordinarily would run down the list of every possible starting job that could be in competition before I get to any of the backup roles, but realistically, the number two quarterback role may prove to be the single most contentious spot on the roster this summer, and it should be fun to watch.
To me, I feel the primary hope should be that whoever emerges, in what order, both of them will come out of it better for it and will put the team in a better position than they would have been without that competition.