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: Will Devlin Hodges remain the backup quarterback for the rest of the season?
I touched on this a bit yesterday, but while Duck has plenty of fans in Pittsburgh, nobody really knows if he is ready to be one snap away from playing in a real, live NFL game that actually means something. The undrafted rookie out of Samford failed to make the initial practice squad, but was signed there after the Steelers were able to net a fifth-round pick for Joshua Dobbs, and then was promoted to the 53-man roster as the only other quarterback left following Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow issue.
In explaining the move, head coach Mike Tomlin invoked the phrase “short-term” multiple times. He was the best “short-term option” because he is the only other quarterback available to them who knows the offense. He provides “short-term fluidity” as they evaluate Paxton Lynch, a former first-round pick who was signed to the practice squad.
He will enter Sunday’s game dressing for the contest and will serve as Mason Rudolph’s backup. Maybe he’ll do so for most of the season. Maybe even for the entire season. Maybe he proves to be good enough to be a long-term backup for the remainder of his career. Who knows.
But right now, I think it’s pretty apparent that the Steelers are open to other possibilities as they present themselves. Whether it’s Lynch, or perhaps they end up signing somebody else later on down the road, it’s too early to say. They need somebody who knows the system, and that will take time—see the Mike Vick disaster—so for the time being, that buys Hodges some breathing room, and the opportunity to cement himself into this new role.