For as much as a large segment of people might prefer to see Paxton Lynch under center this evening for the Pittsburgh Steelers, following a two-game stretch in which Devlin Hodges has thrown six interceptions, one shouldn’t expect to see him take the field any time soon unless it becomes a necessity driven by injury.
That has at least been the sentiment consistently implied by head coach Mike Tomlin in the comments that he has made since Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets, during which Mason Rudolph suffered a season-ending injury and vaulted Lynch into the backup position.
“I don’t know that you’re capable of getting him ready in totality, to a level of comfort that we all would be comfortable with”, he told Bob Pompeani yesterday during his appearance for the Mike Tomlin Show. “That’s just the reality of this thing. Paxton’s a guy that got on the moving train. We were in gameplan prep by the time he got onboard”.
“He was the third quarterback. We had two young ones in front of him, so the readiness of those guys was more important”, he went on, referring of course to Rudolph and Hodges, neither of whom had ever played a snap in the NFL prior to this season.
“They had been a part of the team development process through OTAs and training camp. Really limited opportunities in terms of getting, number one, a sense of what he’s truly capable of in a football setting”, Tomlin continued. “We hadn’t been in many football settings since he’s been here. There’s been football-like settings. And number two, just the focus on the readiness of the other young guys that have had to deliver has really minimized his opportunity”.
Despite the significant scaling back of expectations for the theoretical opportunity of Lynch performing on the field, however, Tomlin was by no means disparaging the player, but rather acknowledging the position he’s in, which is limited in terms of his opportunities to work. What he has seen, he has liked.
“In practice, when he’s running scout teams and so forth, you see the arm strength, the arm talent, the size, the fluidity of movement and things of that nature that got him drafted in round one for sure”, he allowed. Lynch, of course, was a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos a few years ago.
With Rudolph on the Reserve/Injured List, Lynch is going to be one snap away from playing today, and for any hypothetical playoff game, as well. It probably is not in the Steelers’ best interests to see this happen, quite frankly.