It’s highly likely at this point that when the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field out west next week, they will be starting their third different quarterback of the season, at least the second team this year to do so (the other being the New York Jets), and at least the 41st different quarterback to start a game this year.
And it’s more likely than not that that quarterback will be Devlin Hodges, the rookie undrafted free agent out of Samford. After initially being waived after the preseason, he was re-signed to the practice squad after Week One when the Steelers traded Joshua Dobbs away. He was signed to the 53-man roster a week later after Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the year.
He became Mason Rudolph’s backup at that point, but will probably have to start on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers after finishing yesterday’s game following the ugly injury Rudolph suffered, resulting in a concussion.
“As soon as I saw him laying on the ground, I knew”, he said, that he was going to be playing. “I threw my headset down and ran and got my helmet. I didn’t know how long he was gonna be down for, [but] I was ready to go in in 10 seconds, or a minute, or however long it took”.
It was the NFL debut for the FCS product, and he finished the game completing seven of nine pass attempts for 68 yards, plus 20 yards on two carries, including a long scramble. He led a touchdown drive ending in a James Conner score on the drive in which Rudolph was injured, but that wasn’t what immediately entered his mind.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘is Mason okay?’. Mason’s my guy. I would say he’s one of my closer friends on the team. He’s really taken me in”, Hodges told reporters. “You might’ve seen me on the sideline kind of just standing there, it wasn’t because I was freaking out about me going in. I was just thinking about Mason, you know, what’s up with him? Is he okay? Because there for a minute, he was just laying there, he wasn’t moving, and that’s just tough to look at”.
2019 will likely be the first year since 2015 that the Steelers have started three different quarterbacks, which is the last time Roethlisberger had a serious injury. After Bruce Gradkowski was injured in the preseason, Mike Vick was signed to be his backup, so he started when Roethlisberger went down that year. After he was injured, it was Landry Jones starting.