And thus the children cried and the angelic chorus sounded.
I’m referring, of course, to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ re-signing of third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges earlier this week to the practice squad. A college free agent, the Samford graduate was initially signed after being invited to participate in rookie minicamp.
Typically a spot for a proverbial ‘fourth arm’, Hodges showed better than Brogan Roback and then continued to catch people’s eyes in practice, enough that the Steelers gave him a very serious look throughout training camp and the preseason.
While they didn’t immediate result in a job after the preseason was over, it did help enable them to feel comfortable trading third-string quarterback Joshua Dobbs if the right offer came along, and that didn’t take long. The Jacksonville Jaguars, in need of a second quarterback after Nick Foles was injured in the season opener, found themselves willing to part with a fifth-round pick for him.
So Hodges was back at practice yesterday, telling Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that “I am still involved just like I was when I was here before I left and just like any other active quarterback”, in answering a question about his role as a practice squad player rather than on the 53-man roster.
During the preseason, in which he participated in three games, Hodges completed 20 of 38 pass attempts, though he had a high number of his incompletions dropped. He threw for 190 yards, averaging five yards per attempt, with two touchdowns and one interception, the latter of which was a bit fluky in nature.
Hodges said that the team told him during the cutting process that they felt he did a good job during the preseason. They “told me, ‘hey, you need to go back and work out because you never know what can happen’”.
What can happen obviously happened sooner rather than later, and he only wound up spending about two weeks or so unemployed. He said that he was actually on his way to participate in a tryout with the New York Jets when he got the news and promptly turned around. Of course, teams routinely hold tryouts for players throughout the season just in case, so it doesn’t mean they were looking to sign him then and there.
“I am sure a lot of people say that, and I didn’t think that would happen so quick, so soon, just a week later”, he added. “It was a nice little week home, but I am happy to be back and happy to be back around the guys in the locker room”.
With Hodges on the practice squad, this is seemingly uncharted territory for the Steelers, at least in recent years, who have traditionally always kept three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. But the rare circumstances they were offered this year allowed it to happen.