Pittsburgh has Duck Fever.
And the only prescription is more duck calls.
Devlin Hodges has gone from total unknown to folk hero in five months, entering Pittsburgh as a tryout player to now winning his first NFL start Sunday over the Los Angeles Chargers. It’s been a whirlwind journey from OTAs, to training camp, and now to the regular season, but Hodges’ confident, steady demeanor has allowed him to succeed.
Hodges was a guest on The Pat McAfee Show 2.0 Tuesday morning and described what his life has been like the past few weeks. Before getting his first start, Hodges relieved an injured Mason Rudolph to nearly beat the Baltimore Ravens. From that moment, he exuded confidence to his teammates.
“Stepping into the huddle, the first thing I told the receivers was, ‘you know I’m about to sling it around,'” Hodges told the show. “I was confident, I was calm.”
Sling it around he did. He finished that game 7/9 for 68 yards, showing rare poise for a player, as he admits, hardly received any reps leading up to the week.
There was a little more time to prepare but no less pressure for his first start against the Chargers. On the West Coast. Sunday night. Season hanging in the balance. The offense predictably managed Hodges’ work, not putting too much on his plate, but he made good decisions, moved the ball on third down, and avoided disastrous plays.
And before the game, it was Mike Tomlin who showed confidence in him. Hodges told McAfee what Tomlin said to him right before the game.
“He came up to me and said, ‘let your nuts hang and let’s go.'”
At one point, Hodges completed nine straight passes and finished the day 15/20 for 132 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The offense ran, literally, through James Conner, who scored the offense’s only two touchdowns on the night. Exactly how the Steelers’ envisioned the game going.
“We just knew with what they did, James was going to be able to have a good night. We were going to be able to run the ball good. Melvin Ingram didn’t play, so that helped the offensive line get a good push. When it was my turn to convert a third down or get loose, we executed it.”
While Hodges figures to be on the Steelers’ roster the rest of the year, Sunday may turn out to be his only NFL start. Rudolph is expected back after the bye and will undoubtedly become the starter again and presuming good health, will lead the team for the rest of the season. But Hodges got his chance to sign this weekend in front of his friends and family and is the epitome of the Steelers “next man up” mentality.
You can check out the entire interview below. It starts the show and runs through 31:10. Hodges also offers up a couple of his award-winning duck calls too. Heads up, some NSFW language so throw in headphones or wait until you leave work before turning it on.