The Pittsburgh Steelers enter this game with a lot of confidence in their young quarterback, Mason Rudolph. It goes without saying that there is also some hesitation, which always comes with anything that you’ve never done before. The second-year quarterback may have played the game all his life, but he is set to make the first start in his NFL career. That’s a big deal.
One thing that comforts the coaching staff, though, is that they know he’s put in the work. It’s one of the defining traits that originally attracted them to Rudolph when he was coming out of Oklahoma State, and it’s something that offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner has continued to observe in his young project.
“He is a worker. An absolute worker”, Fichtner told reporters late last week, via a transcript provided by the team’s media department. “He works 24/7. Sometimes I have to work hard to have a joke with him because he is just that serious. But that is a good thing”.
“And I will work on my jokes, I am not that good at them”, he added. “I don’t have good punch lines”. For what it’s worth, Mike Munchak was known to be funny with a dry sense of humor. We also see Rudolph having fun on the sidelines and in interviews, however. It’s the work, the preparation, that he takes deadly seriously.
“He is that kind of guy. He is that worker, it matters to him, he cares”, Fichtner continued. “He listened as a soldier and as a confidant with Ben. There is a lot of in-helmet perspective that he didn’t get in the year and a half he has been here, but I know he got a lot of it because he listens, and he pays attention. He works at his job. And he listened to Ben. That is part of the learning curve, too”.
Rudolph said that he is going to be in Ben Roethlisberger’s ear as much as the veteran allows, as he sorts out some surgery that he needs to get done on his throwing elbow. And he also said that Roethlisberger told him he’ll be there to support him.
The whole team has his back. They all want him to succeed, because his success is their success as well. They’ve seen him put in the work for the past year and a half, and they’ve seen him wait for his turn. They’ve watched him grow and develop.
For the first time, they watched him prepare for an entire week during the regular season as a starter. He will be as ready as he possibly can be to make his debut as a starting quarterback, presumably one of 14 games he’ll start this regular season, barring injury.