It sure isn’t any fun rolling with your third string quarterback. Even less when that man is a UDFA rookie who five months ago, was merely fighting for a spot on the 90 man roster. But it’s hard not to be impressed with the job QB Devlin Hodges did yesterday despite the eventual overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. After the game, teammates gave him props for the job he did, including guard David DeCastro.
“He’s one of those guys who everyone was watching during training camp,” DeCastro told reporters. “And he played pretty damn well. As a rookie coming in, picking up the offense, he did a good job going out there with no preparation, making some pretty good calls, and giving us a great chance to win.”
Coming off the bench to relieve an injured Mason Rudolph, Hodges finished the game 7/9 for 68 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions. He did throw a pick to Earl Thomas that was negated by a defensive holding call. But he moved the offense and, threw the ball downfield, and may have been in position for the win had it not been for JuJu Smith-Schuster’s fumble in overtime.
After the game, Hodges said his nerves went away quickly once he got to the line of scrimmage. He even changed the protection before attempting his first pass, sliding the line to the right to pick up a Ravens’ blitz.
In all, an impressive performance for a player who has impressed since landing in Pittsburgh. Invited on a tryout basis in rookie minicamp, he knocked off Brogan Roback for the #4 QB spot on the 53 man roster. That final spot is typically an afterthought but Hodges lit up camp, finishing it with impressive numbers across the board.
Across 14 practices, Hodges went: 61/85 (71.8%) 646 yards (10.6 YPC) 6 TDs 2 INTs
He was similarly impressive in the preseason though faded a bit at the end and was cut as the team trimmed its roster from 90 to 53. After shouting out the XFL for an opportunity, the Steelers brought him back to the practice squad after trading Josh Dobbs to Jacksonville then promoted Hodges to the 53 once Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season. Now, he’s likely to start Sunday night on the road versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
His first start will be a big pressure moment but Hodges has thrived in those environments. Last year, in his senior season with Samford, Hodges and company nearly upset Florida State on the road. That day, Hodges threw for nearly 500 yards and a pair of touchdowns (he did also throw four interceptions) in a 36-26 defeat. You can check out highlights of those games below.
No one knows how Hodges will perform in his assumed first NFL start but everything in his past coupled with what happened Sunday are all positive marks and rare confidence in a rookie quarterback.