While Mason Rudolph has been able to practice every day this week since suffering a scary concussion on Sunday that left him unconscious on the field for several minutes, the Pittsburgh Steelers second-year quarterback has been limited so far to running scout-team reps, with rookie Devlin Hodges receiving the full plate of first-team snaps that the starter would get.
The expectation is that Hodges will start, and the light is being left on for Rudolph that he could potentially dress as the backup, but if not, the Steelers will have to call up Paxton Lynch from the practice squad, which would likely mean that a player like Jayrone Elliott will be released to make room for him.
No matter who the backup is, the Steelers sound as though they are as confident in Hodges under center as they are with Rudolph. Sunday will help determine whether or not that optimism is justified when he faces the Los Angeles Chargers.
Nick Vannett, his newest offensive teammate, brings an interesting perspective to the equation. Traded for mid-season, only a couple of games with the Steelers under his belt, he probably doesn’t even know a lot of Hodges’ backstory. He just knows what he’s seen on the practice field. So I thought the comments that he offered to the team’s website on the rookie quarterback were interesting from that angle.
“When Devlin is in there, he has that voice in the huddle he is able to get everybody under control, say everything with confidence, get everybody lined up, know where the hots are and know where the line is working”, the fourth-year tight end said. “All of that. Everything a quarterback needs to know in this offense, he knows”.
Vannett had only seen Hodges on the practice field before Sunday, when he had to come in to finish the game in the second half after Rudolph was injured. Hodges attempted a dozen passes and generally looked good, given the circumstances.
“I don’t think it’s much of a transition at all” for the offense to move from Rudolph to Hodges, he told Teresa Varley. “I think he has the confidence. You saw it in the game. I don’t think there is any drop off. He is stepping up and we aren’t missing a beat”.
That’s good to hear, but it will be even better to see. The Steelers do need to get more consistency out of their offense, which has only been effective in spurts this season, even with Ben Roethlisberger. The defense has largely held up its end in most cases.