It’s good to be able to hear from Mason Rudolph. I don’t say that just because it means that he is back on the field for the Pittsburgh Steelers, of course, but more important, it means that he’s out of the concussion protocol, and that means that he is healthy and back to himself. Players are not permitted to speak to reporters while they are in the concussion protocol.
So as the Steelers prepare this week to face the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, we have these first comments coming in from Rudolph, which is nice in and of itself. But it’s also good to hear that it really doesn’t sound as though he’s missed a beat. In fact, he sounds hungry to get back out there and start winning a bunch of games.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys in this locker room that are starting to really rally together and starting to gel after a lot of new pieces were put together in this puzzle”, he told reporters yesterday, via a transcript from the team’s media department. And it’s true. Rudolph himself was the biggest change, but the loss of Antonio Brown, the introduction of new skill positions players in Benny Snell, Nick Vannett, Diontae Johnson, and others…all these things take time to come together.
“I think we’re really comfortable playing together and for each other, and I’m just excited to get back out there with the guys on Monday”, Rudolph went on. “Then continue to push, and try to get right back in. I think we’re in the mix right now, and keep stacking wins”.
The Steelers are 2-4 on the season and having stacked any wins yet, but they have their second chance to do so against the Dolphins as they look to build off a seven-point win over the Los Angeles Chargers in the game before the bye. The game started not by him, but by Devlin Hodges.
Still, there was not question, and no hesitation, about who would be the quarterback once Rudolph was healthy, and Mike Tomlin made that abundantly clear during his pre-game press conference earlier in the week. His teammates, most especially Maurkice Pouncey, laid it bare as well. They play for each other. They play for him.
“I think we’re really starting to gel well as an offense, and I’m looking forward to Monday”, the young quarterback added in response to a later question. “I think it’s a special group, and we’re ready to kind of get right back in this hunt and start trying to make a run”.
That special group still has a lot of work to do, but hopefully they’ve gotten some of that done over the break. A lot will be riding on the likes of Johnson and James Washington to step up, and on Rudolph himself, to be able to push the ball.