The Pittsburgh Steelers will start quarterback Devlin Hodges on Sunday at Heinz Field against the Cleveland Browns. Head coach Mike Tomlin made the announcement that Hodges will start over quarterback Mason Rudolph during his Tuesday press conference.
“We met as a staff and we’ve decided that were going to start Duck this week and really the decision is clear for us and some really clear reasons why,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “Like I talked about after the game, I thought that he provided us a spark in-game. I’m hopeful that he’s capable of continuing to provide that spark as we step into this stadium.
“In recent quarters of action we’ve really been bogged down and it’s due to a lot of things. It goes beyond just Mason and his performance. He’s been in and out of the lineup, some running backs and offensive linemen have been in and out of the lineup, we’ve missed some guys at receiver. Specifically in the last game the combination of playing without Conner and JuJu and so maybe some of those negative things have worn away at elements of Mason’s play. He hadn’t protected the ball very recently like he did at the early portions of his participation. And I’ve got a lot of patience for young guys, but one thing that we need to do is take care of the ball and so those are one of the reasons why we gave Devlin an opportunity in Cincy. Once given that opportunity he took care of the ball and provided a spark so we just thought it was reasonable as we prepare this week to allow him to continue to do that.”
Tomlin added more about the team’s decision to start Hodges Sunday over Rudolph and what that means and how no decision on who starts past this Sunday has been made.
“It means nothing about our intended plans for the foreseeable future or the trajectory of Mason’s career or what have you,” Tomlin said. “We’re just not of that mentality. We’re not in a position to be of that mentality. We’re putting pieces together on a week-by-week basis because of the adversity that the game presents, with players being available to us, or not available to us. And so we’re singularly focused on winning this game or putting ourselves in position to win this game.
“And so that’s where the decision lies. We’ll see where we are after this game. Really we have no intended plans beyond this one. We’ve got to see who’s available to us in terms of this game, put that group together and in some cases learn what they’re capable of doing and some new guy instances in an effort to put them in the most advantageous position in situations and in match ups, so that we can perform.”
Hodges replaced Rudolph early in the third quarter of the team’s Sunday game against the Cincinnati Bengals and quickly led the offense to a 79-yard touchdown via a deep pass to wide receiver James Washington. Hodges ended Sunday’s game having completed five of his 11 total pass attempts for 118 yards with the lone touchdown and no interceptions.
As for Rudolph, who started Sunday’s game against the Bengals, he completed just eight of his 16 total pass attempts in just a little more than half the game for 85 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. His interception came inside red zone in the first half.
Sunday will mark the second game that Hodges has start this season as the former undrafted free agent out of Samford also started in place of Rudolph in Week 6 against the Los Angeles Chargers due to Rudolph missing that game with a concussion. The Steelers won that game against Chargers 24-17 and Hodges finished that contest having completed 15 of his 20 total pass attempts for 132 yards with a touchdown and an interception.