Chase Claypool hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to work with Mason Rudolph so far. That’s not surprising, given that he is a rookie starter and Rudolph is the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backup quarterback. They have gotten practice time in on Wednesdays and things like that when Ben Roethlisberger is not on the field, but there is work to do to build a rhythm in time for Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, which Rudolph will start.
The rookie wide receiver is not concerned about that. “I think he will do really well based on what I have seen in practice and I am just excited to see him go to work”, he told reporters earlier today as they prepare to work for the game.
The Steelers’ three other top wide receivers have a lot of experience working with Rudolph, because they were all here last season when he started eight games while Roethlisberger was sidelined due to injury. Diontae Johnson even set a team rookie record for receptions playing primarily with Rudolph.
Even though it might not seem like it at times, backup quarterbacks are actually very much a part of the team nucleus and culture, like everybody else is. On the outside, you only really see the backup when the starter is out, and pretty much never hear from him unless he has to go into a game and play meaningful snaps. That’s not the case for his teammates.
“His locker is close to mine, so we talk every day”, Claypool said about Rudolph. “Mason gives me advice. Even on the bench in games, he looks at film, tells me what to do, or what Ben would like me to do. We have been developing a relationship so I am excited to see him play and maybe get a glimpse of what it will be like in the future”.
Rudolph is in his third season since the Steelers selected him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. At the time of his selection, he was the highest draft pick at his position Pittsburgh had taken since Roethlisberger himself in 2004. After drafting him, the team talked about having had him graded in the cluster of quarterbacks who were taken in the first round.
Unfortunately for him, he did not impress in his extended playing time last season, going 176-for-283 passing, with 1765 passing yards and 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He threw four interceptions in his start against the Browns last season, the team he will face Sunday.
Rudolph was benched one drive into the third quarter a week later and would only play a very little bit in the penultimate game against the New York Jets, when the man who replaced him, Devlin Hodges, was also benched. But he would suffer a shoulder injury that ended his season. This is his first opportunity to get meaningful playing time since then.