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: How much playing time will Devlin Hodges receive in the preseason finale?
As it so often does, the Steelers have several final touches to put on their 53-man roster, and the roles of the players within it, that must be determined in the final preseason game, against the Carolina Panthers. One of the advantages of consistently playing against the same opponent is that it provides a loose baseline for comparison from year to year, though of course the roster changes every year.
One of the questions still unanswered is the pecking order at quarterback between two through four. I think most are crystalizing around a consensus of Mason Rudolph as the number two, but there remains a persistent belief that rookie undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges is also worthy of a roster spot.
Given that he has only attempted 18 passes through 120 minutes of preseason football to date, however, it’s abundantly apparent that he lacks a sufficient body of work to justify making that call. In other words, he needs to play, and likely play extensively, to have any hope of making the Steelers’ 53-man roster at the end of the week.
The question is, will he be given that opportunity? That depends largely upon how the Steelers view the backup quarterback battle between Dobbs and Rudolph. If they are comfortable knowing who the backup is, Hodges will play.
If not, he might not see the field at all. Last year, Rudolph and Dobbs played every snap. Landry Jones only played a couple dozen snaps throughout the four preseason games (even less than Hodges has played) last season while losing his job. And he had a much more established body of work. Again, to put this simply, Hodges needs to play, and play extensively, in the final preseason game to have a chance to earn a roster spot. Will he be given that chance? I’m pessimistic about it.