The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Cleveland Browns on the road on Sunday and with backup quarterback Mason Rudolph expected to start that contest, it’s easy to guess what one of the storylines is leading up to kickoff of that Week 17 contest. If you can’t guess, it’s Rudolph facing off in a game against Browns defensive end Myles Garrett again and for the first time since the two had a quite violent skirmish late in the 2019 meeting between the two teams in Cleveland that include the quarterback being hit over the head with his own helmet.
Rudolph finally met the media on Friday to talk about his upcoming start against the Browns and as expected, he was asked several questions about having to play against Garrett again on Sunday. First, Rudolph brushed off an indirect question about Garrett centered around his motivation heading into Sunday based on what happened in last season’s game against the Browns in Cleveland.
“I think I’m just motivated that I’ve got this opportunity,” Rudolph said. “I think all the guys that maybe have an increased role this week, Coach [Mike] Tomlin talks about engineering victory. And I think when you don’t have your leader on offense, you know, being Ben [Roethlisberger], our Hall of Fame quarterback, as well as some other players, I think it’s important that we know that we’ve got to bring the energy as a team.”
It didn’t take long for Rudolph on Friday to get a more direct question about Garrett as he was later asked if there has been any sort of contact between his camp and the defensive end’s camp since last season’s game and if there needs to be some sort of closure on either’s end so that both players can forward with their respective careers.
“He has not reached out to me in any capacity,” Rudolph said. “But listen, I’ve got a lot of respect for Myles. He’s a great player. They’ve got a great defense, a great team. They’re playing for a lot. It’s going to be a fun game, a lot on the line for them, they’re playing for, you know, obviously a playoff berth. And, so, outside of that, that’s all. This game is too big to worry about anything external that happened years ago.”
So, does Rudolph anticipate hearing from Garrett before or after Sunday’s game in Cleveland?
“I’m happy to hear Myles out with whatever,” Rudolph said. “If he wants to approach me, if he wants to talk, like I said, he’s a great player. They’re playing well as a defense. He’s a menace in the backfield. He very disruptive. I mean, when they’re playing at their best, he’s sack-fumbling, he’s getting to the quarterback. So, we obviously are very aware of that and we treat him with great respect.”
So, will Rudolph have any extra motivation on Sunday to beat the Browns, which would likely result in them failing to make the playoffs? You know he does, but when asked a similar question on Friday he did not take the bait and thus gave a very politically correct question, just as he pretty much did the entire media session when asked questions related to Garrett.
“I think I’m looking forward to being personally responsible for winning a game with my teammates for our team,” Rudolph said “We’re worried about ourselves. We’re worried about our team. We’re worried about, we still have got a chance, things have got to happen, but to lock up and potentially win a two-seed back. So, we’re focused on the Pittsburgh Steelers, what we can control, and anything else outside of that is not important.”