2019 Offseason Questions: Has Mason Rudolph Won The Backup Job?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.

The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.

How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Has Mason Rudolph secured the backup job over Joshua Dobbs?

Over the course of the first three preseason games, I think it would be fair to say that Rudolph has looked to be the better quarterback, especially the better passer, between the two young draft picks at the position on the roster.

After starting the second preseason game, he was the first one in at quarterback after Ben Roethlisberger exited the game, though Mike Tomlin said not to read into the rotation. He would finish the game completing six of nine passes for 75 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown to James Washington, also throwing his first interception of the preseason when Washington failed to run the right route.

As for Dobbs, last night he completed only four of nine passes, albeit for 79 yards. But for the second time in as many weeks, he threw an interception in the red zone, this one coming off the fingertips of Zach Gentry on a high pass.

In Dobbs’ defense, he hasn’t had the best luck this preseason. He had a near-touchdown to Washington in the first game on which the receiver failed to get his left toes inbounds, then had a touchdown taken away in the second due to a questionable offensive pass interference call. Johnny Holton failed to stay inbounds on a deep pass last night, and as mentioned, his pick to Gentry did go off his fingers.

The biggest difference between the two is that Dobbs is much more boom-or-bust. He has had more success vertically, and his scrambling is an asset, but his short-range passing inaccuracy is simply perplexing at this point in his career. Nevertheless, it must be said that both quarterbacks look comfortable running the offense.

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