The Pittsburgh Steelers released Fred Johnson last week in part of a series of four moves to make supplemental exchanges on the 53-man roster to accommodate injuries, promoting quarterback Paxton Lynch from the practice squad after Mason Rudolph suffered a concussion in the previous game. With Devlin Hodges going into Sunday’s contest as the starter, Lynch dressed as his backup.
Technically, they didn’t have to do that. And not just because there is no rule necessitating that you have to have two healthy quarterbacks on your roster. according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rudolph had actually cleared the concussion protocol by the end of the past week, which would mean that he was eligible to be active on Sunday.
According to the paper, he even wanted to play, presumably lobbying the coaching staff on that matter, “but the Steelers had already made the decision to not use him and give Hodges all the preparation in practice”.
Hodges ran the first-team offense all the past week, but Rudolph also practiced every day, running the scout team. It hasn’t really been disclosed what Lynch had been doing in practice, but presumably he got some meaningful reps in knowing that he would be active.
Lynch was signed to the practice squad after Ben Roethlisberger was put on the Reserve/Injured List and Hodges promoted from the practice squad after the second game of the season. With Rudolph on pace to return for the Steelers’ next game, he is likely to be waived and re-signed to the practice squad assuming that he clears waivers.
While I do believe that the coaching and medical staff made the right decision to take the decision out of Rudolph’s hands as to whether or not he would play, the fact that it was even a topic of discussion is a great sign of the progress he has made since suffering the concussion.
In fact, pretty much everything since the moment he regained consciousness following the hit to the head that he took from Earl Thomas has been positive. When he came to, he was communicative and walked off the field, assisted. He was taken to the hospital, but cleared and able to sleep in his own bed that night.
Everything has been trending in a very positive direction, and that’s great to hear not just because it means that he should be available for the Steelers, but also because it’s simply a good sign for his own wellbeing, which is frankly a topic that doesn’t come up enough when talking about concussions as ‘football injuries’.