While the Pittsburgh Steelers did re-sign rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges to the practice squad after having been waived after the preseason, the team technically only has two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, quite a rarity for a team who holds an organizational philosophy of carrying three.
It’s even more of a surprise in light of what head coach Mike Tomlin said about the backup quarterback position last week. While the job was given to second-year Mason Rudolph, he essentially told reporters that he would be competing on a weekly basis to retain that role, and if he slips, Joshua Dobbs would always be there looking to take his job back.
That didn’t last long, as the Steelers traded Dobbs to the quarterback-needy Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday after Nick Foles suffered an injury that will likely land him on the short-term injured reserve list. Dobbs will now dress as the number two quarterback there.
After the news of the trade first broke, Rudolph spoke to reporters in the locker room about the situation, as captured by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Regarding Tomlin’s prior comments, he said, “he likes to keep that environment of competition, just keep it in the forefront of our minds”.
“That’s at every position, so it’s nothing new to me”, he added. “It’s how I’ve always operated through the ranks of high school, college, and now. I’ll continue to compete and take care of myself”.
Rudolph spent his rookie season as the number three quarterback, never dressing for a game, if I’m not mistaken, behind Dobbs. He also got the snaps in practice relative to that which the number three quarterback receives, which is…few.
That is the major difference for him between his first season and now, especially with 37-year-old Ben Roethlisberger typically having a short practice week, getting a day off and then a half day before being a full go to end the week.
“Every single day is a great opportunity, especially for me being the backup in practice, attacking practice and trying to get the most out of it and helping the team win in any way I can”, he said. During the offseason, he said that he felt by the end of his rookie season that he could contribute if necessary.
Now, he is just one snap away from doing so, and as we saw last year, they can always come at a moment’s notice. While Dobbs played in five games, he had to play in two, with Roethlisberger coming off the field for at least one snap in those two contests due to an injury. Rudolph has to be ready to come off the bench cold and sling it, a challenge for any college-level starter to adjust to at this level.