The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t played a game in two weeks, thanks to their bye. But their quarterback, Mason Rudolph, is now three weeks out since he took the field. the second-year player missed their most recent game while in the concussion protocol, stemming from a hit that he took by Earl Thomas of the Baltimore Ravens.
While the Steelers were able to win the following game against the Los Angeles Chargers with rookie Devlin Hodges making the first start of his career—it was just their second win of the season, mind you—head coach Mike Tomlin was emphatic that Rudolph would remain the starter.
During his weekly show from Saturday, he talked to Bob Pompeani about his expectations for Rudolph coming back from the concussion as the team moves on to the second half of its season, following the bye week.
“I expect him to pick up right where he left off”, he said. “Taking care of the ball, being aggressive, distributing the ball on-time and on-rhythm to a variety of people. He’s a football junkie. He’s a guy that brings a certain approach and attitude every day. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the grass and getting back into a stadium and watching him grow and mature and deliver winning performances for us”.
Through his first three-plus games, Rudolph has completed 67 percent of his passes, 63 of 94 attempts, throwing for 646 yards. He has thrown seven touchdowns and two interceptions, with two touchdown passes in each of his first three appearances, which tied the NFL record. His fourth appearance was the Ravens game, in which he suffered a concussion and had to leave early, but not before throwing a touchdown.
During his playing time, many have observed that the offense has played rather conservatively, featuring a lot of short passes at or behind the line of scrimmage, with only a smattering of shots down the field. Pompeani asked Tomlin if the playbook is open to Rudolph this week and going forward.
“We have full playbook capabilities, but we’re going to lean on things that he’s comfortable with, things that he is performing well with”, the head coach said. “The journey will reveal what those things are to us, not only in a practice setting, but in a game setting, and if we need to pull back at any juncture, we’re always willing to do that. I think that’s the appropriate approach to take when you’re dealing with a young QB”.
There is great potential for growth moving forward while the offense gets some injured players back. Not just Rudolph, but also James Washington, and possibly Jaylen Samuels as well, who was a full participant in practice all week. Having a full complement of skill position players should also be an asset to using a larger portion of the playbook.