The Pittsburgh Steelers have little choice but to go with Devlin Hodges under center for that may well be the final game of the season, a regular season road finale against the Baltimore Ravens. While the latter has clinched the number one seed, the AFC North champions still harbor a great desire to defeat the Steelers at every opportunity—and in Baltimore, they typically have of late.
Hodges, a rookie out of Samford, has started the past four games after coming in for a benched Mason Rudolph, but he himself was benched last week in favor of Rudolph, who played well for roughly half of the game before he was injured. His injury later proved to be serious enough to justify placing him on the Reserve/Injured List.
The cause for Hodges’ benching was simple: he threw six interceptions in a game and a half. He was making mistakes in his reads and things of that nature, which was leading to him turning the ball over at an entirely unsustainable rate. That resulted in Pittsburgh dropping two games and losing its control over the playoffs.
So what are their expectations for their rookie passer tomorrow? Said Randy Fichtner, “I expect that we will eliminate any mistakes that he has made and whatever mistakes he makes in this game will be a new one”. A comforting thought, surely, that any mistakes me makes will be brand new, rather than the same-old, same-old.
“He has been pretty good at that minus a handful of balls that could have been in better places, could have been more protective of the football”, the offensive coordinator added. “As far as game management and some of the things he has done for protection and running the system, he has done really well”.
The Steelers have gone 3-2 in the five games that Hodges has started to date. In those five games, he has completed 79 of 115 pass attempts for 782 yards with just four touchdowns to eight interceptions, taking 11 sacks.
Originally unsigned following the 2019 NFL Draft, Hodges was invited to attend the Steelers’ rookie minicamp, following which he earned a spot on the 90-man roster. He competed sufficiently well throughout the offseason that he was given ample playing time in the preseason.
The Steelers ultimately felt comfortable enough in him that, though they did not retain him, they were willing to trade Joshua Dobbs when they were offered a fifth-round pick, re-signing him after making that move. He became Rudolph’s backup after Ben Roethlisberger was injured, and has since logged over 300 snaps.