The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Devlin Hodges will not play again until the fourth preseason game.
Explanation: The Steelers’ fourth quarterback on their 90-man roster, Devlin Hodges, had drawn a lot of buzz leading up to the preseason opener. During his pre-game press conference, Head Coach Mike Tomlin said that the intention was to get him some playing time, and said that he would do so over the course of the next two games. He ended up getting roughly a quarter and a half in the first preseason game.
If Tomlin planned on getting Hodges multiple looks, he would not have endeavored to structure his reps for the quarterback position in the first preseason game such that Hodges saw such extensive playing time in the opener. Especially considering how little the Steelers possessed the ball early on.
Joshua Dobbs started the game and only played 21 snaps by the time that he gave way to Mason Rudolph. Rudolph himself played just 16 snaps, but Tomlin evidently decided that he’d seen enough after he threw a pair of touchdowns. The rest—26 snaps—went to Hodges.
If he were going to play again next week, or the week after that, then Hodges would have had to have turned in a better performance than he did on Friday. That game was his chance to really step into the picture and throw a wrench into things. He did solid, overall, and Tomlin expressed pleasure in what he saw from the rookie. But it wasn’t enough to impede the development and competition between Dobbs and Rudolph for the backup job.
The fact that Hodges got in so early in the first game bodes well for the possibility of him playing more, perhaps even in all four preseason games, even if it’s very little in the third. Especially if the Steelers actually possess the ball more and get Dobbs and Rudolph more snaps in their drives, there will still be opportunities for the rookie.
Whether or not he plays more will be dictated more so by whether or not he justifies it in the week of practice leading up to each game. So far, he has been getting better and better in practice, and with live reps against legitimate opponents now under his belt, he is ready to take the next step.