The Pittsburgh Steelers, as is the standard, will only dress two quarterbacks for tomorrow’s game. Going against their standards—which they’ve previously already deviated from this year, almost by necessity—they will only have two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.
And those quarterbacks were not even on rosters at the start of the season, or even entering Week Two. They signed Devlin Hodges to the practice squad after they traded Joshua Dobbs at that time. He was signed to the 53-man roster after Ben Roethlisberger was injured, and they then signed Paxton Lynch to the practice squad.
He was later added to the 53-man roster, but now with Mason Rudolph on the Reserve/Injured List, he will be the direct backup to Hodges as their only options. And Hodges was benched as recently as last week after tossing six interceptions over six quarters. So it’s no wonder the media swarmed him in the locker room this week, knowing he’s never had a better chance to play.
“If Paxton was to go in and play, the expectation is he would understand what he would be asked to do”, said offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, via a transcript provided by the team’s media department from his media availability session yesterday.
“I know he has been here long enough and is sharp enough. He has asked all the right, good questions for many weeks. He has been very sharp in the meeting room”, he added. “What rust might come out in game? Who’s to know. That has been the thing with any of the quarterbacks that have played. You just hope that the big mistake wouldn’t occur. I do like where he is at right now. Mentally, there is a confidence level, I think he would love to play in this game. That is kind of where we are at”.
Lynch, originally a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos a handful of years ago, obviously never lived up to his draft stock, and he’s quickly become a journeyman. He was released by the Seattle Seahawks earlier this year, after it was initially believed he may make the roster.
He has been in the system for months now, and is far from a rookie. He has starting experience. He’s thrown touchdowns. He’s not a total novice. But would they trust him to step in and look to him for a ‘spark’, as they did for Hodges so many week ago, if the latter struggles again?
Personally, I have a hard time seeing it happen. I think they ride or die with Hodges, knowing that any playoff hopes lie with him anyway. But hopefully we won’t have to address that possibility anyway.