Devlin Hodges might not have known that there was a possibility he would be playing in yesterday’s game, but it was out there. I don’t know the context in which that became known—perhaps something in practice, perhaps some other insider knowledge—but even Bob Labriola said before the game that Mason Rudolph could be pulled for the Pittsburgh Steelers if he struggled.
He struggled. He got one drive in the first half, a three-and-out, on which he looked bad the two times he dropped back to pass. He was pulled. The Duck call was made, and the Steelers mounted a comeback, scoring 13 unanswered points.
There is no indication from what I have familiarized myself with that anything took place in practice suggesting this was the possibility. To the best of my knowledge, Hodges took only his usual reps during the week, and no more.
If that wasn’t the case, though, then he did a good job of hiding it in his postgame remarks, saying that he didn’t have any idea this might be a possibility this week given the circumstances. He said that they didn’t even tell him during halftime that they might be pulling Rudolph.
“After that first series, they told me to warm up, that was it”, he told reporters when asked that question during his post-game press conference. “And then they told me, ‘hey, you’re going in, so go out there and do your thing’”.
I don’t think I have to really go into much detail about the events of the past week and a half for Rudolph, but the lowlights included throwing four interceptions, being hit in the head with his own helmet, and being accused of using a racial slur. Not the kind of hat trick you want to get.
“The only expectation that I have is, if my number’s called, stay ready, be ready”, he said of preparing for this week. “It’s kind of hard to do when you’re not getting reps at practice. That’s why every time I get a chance to be on the scout team, I just work on my craft. It just goes back to being ready when my number’s called”.
When he did get the call to go in, he said, “it was just, ‘go in and do your thing’. I knew I was ready, I was prepared. Just go out there, have fun, and play football”. He admitted that he “probably felt a little bit more comfortable” playing against the Los Angeles Chargers because of getting the first-team reps that week.
Of course, if he’s going to start this week, he’s obviously don’t to see a lot more time with the first-team offense. And maybe whoever plays will actually have JuJu Smith-Schuster available to them as well.