Though he struggled quite a bit at Heinz Field Friday night in the Friday Night Lights practice of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 Training Camp, fourth-year quarterback Mason Rudolph is embracing the level of competition in the quarterbacks room with with fast-rising third-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins and veteran backup Joshua Dobbs.
Rudolph was intercepted twice on the night (and should have been picked off a third time), but it’s hard to read too much into a performance in training camp, especially for a veteran guy like Rudolph. While it is certainly concerning for fans (and probably some on the coaching staff) to see Rudolph throwing interceptions in training camp, it’s not something to really latch onto.
Instead, latch onto the competition and the push Rudolph is receiving from guys like Haskins and Dobbs, who are battling for the No. 3 job, yet are also pushing Rudolph to be better and solidify himself as the No. 2 QB on the roster. Even though there doesn’t appear to be a competition for the backup to Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph is embracing the competition nonetheless.
“Listen, you know, every single day you come out here and…football’s all about competition and that’s the beauty of the sport,” Rudolph said when speaking to reporters Friday following practice. “I think when everyone’s playing great, it raises the level of competition. Coach Tomlin talks about, you know, iron sharpens iron all the time. And we view it the same way. Coach [Mike] Sullivan has done a good job, you know, bringing us along, teaching us. It’s great to have a quarterback coach, who is detail oriented and we are just taking it one day at a time and trying to improve.”
That’s a pretty typical stance to take for someone who has been in the league for four years now. Oftentimes, a young quarterback like Rudolph could get caught up in the competition and let it get to him, causing his level of play to drop significantly. That doesn’t appear to be the case so far with Rudolph, as Haskins has stolen some attention in training camp, flashing as the No. 3 option and potential next guy after Roethlisberger hangs up his cleats.
“You know, Dwayne’s done a good job coming in, you know, into a new environment, new facility, new teammates, and to, you know, study hard and learn the offense and do a good job of coming out here and competing with Josh [Dobbs] and Big Ben,” Rudolph said. “And, like I said, it’s a great quarterback room, having all those different guys that all have NFL experience, you know. Obviously, Hall of Fame experience is one thing, but you know, the rest of us really enjoy working together.”
Rudolph has a point in that this is a great quarterback room, one with a ton of experience. You’d be hard-pressed to find a time in which the Steelers entered the season with so much experience behind Roethlisberger, probably needing to go all the way back nearly a decade to the 2012 Steelers when they had Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich in the room.
This group might not stack up to that trio at the moment, but there’s a ton of talent and pedigree in the room, which should make the competition that much stronger, improving the team overall at the game’s most important position.