The backup quarterback position always seems to be a popular topic of conversation, even when there is no imminent changing of the guard under center. But there is one on the horizon for the Pittsburgh Steelers, whether it’s next year, or the year after that, and they brought in a former first-round quarterback, so there are plenty of eyes on the position this Summer.
That quarterback in question is Dwayne Haskins, drafted in 2019 by the Washington Football Team. After weathering regime changes, he flamed out of the organization after two seasons. He was picked up as Reserve/Future signing in January as a no-risk move with high upside, and so far, there’s been a lot more upside than any kind of risk.
Of course, when you have the opportunity to pick up a former first-round pick who is still early in his career, you are thinking, at least on the fringes, about the possibility of him being able to start. And if he can start in the future, then he should be able to back up right away.
So far early in training camp, he has seemed to perform better than their backup for the past two seasons, Mason Rudolph. Asked after practice today if he feels like there’s an open competition for that job, he said, “I’m trying to make it one. Hopefully. We’ll see”.
Before practice, head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Rudolph would start the Hall of Fame game versus the Dallas Cowboys, and that Haskins would close out the first half, though he did not specify if he would play into the third quarter. Joshua Dobbs would finish the game.
Based on the open training camp practices, Rudolph and Haskins have had nearly identical opportunities to compete, much the way that Rudolph and Dobbs did in 2019 while competing for the backup job then, which the former ultimately won.
This time, however, the stakes are larger with Roethlisberger’s future uncertain. Whoever is the backup this year would, perhaps, be in the driver’s seat to have a shot of being the Steelers’ starter next season in the event that Ben Roethlisberger does not return—an audition to be the next franchise quarterback.
“I’ve felt like that since the first day I got here”, Haskins said, regarding whether or not it feels like he is going through a tryout to be that next franchise guy. “I’ve been told certain things, and that’s just between me and the coaches. Really got to just go out there and prove that I can play”.
Since being drafted out of Ohio State, Haskins has started 13 games, going 3-10. He has completed 267 of 444 pass attempts for 2,804 yards with 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. Earlier today, Tomlin said that he has seen, the 24-year-old grow “by leaps and bounds”. He’ll have a chance to show the national audience on Thursday.