Here’s what we know. Ben Roethlisberger will start Saturday night’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
Here’s what we don’t know. Everything after that.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Mike Tomlin was tight-lipped about the QB pecking order after Roethlisberger exits the Steelers’ lone home preseason game of the year.
“We’ll play it by ear,” he told the local media via the team site. “We have a plan but we’re also willing to adjust that plan based on what it is that we see in stadium.”
A slightly more vague answer than Tomlin’s offered for the first two preseason games where he outlined at least the order that the quarterbacks would appear in: Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins, and Josh Dobbs. That’ll surely at least to speculation Haskins could move ahead Rudolph for at least this game, potentially seeing action against the Lions’ starting defense for a handful of series.
This week’s game will be the “tune-up” game though Tomlin didn’t commit to how many or how much his starters will play, only noting “all that are healthy” will have an “opportunity” to play. For Roethlisberger, this will be his first and only appearance of the preseason and as we wrote yesterday, he’s seeing the field only because there’s a new offensive coordinator. A box to check for Roethlisberger and Matt Canada before travelling to Buffalo come Week One.
Tomlin did confirm Roethlisberger, not Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins, will start the game.
“The emphasis for this outing as it pertains to the quarterback position is getting Ben his first in-stadium exposure of the pre-season. And we’ll go from there.”
As for the backups, Rudolph has run ahead of Haskins virtually all summer, save for one two-minute session this past Sunday. But if the Steelers want to get one high-quality look at Haskins, something they won’t be able to do in the preseason finale against backups, this could be their week to shake up the depth chart. That’d give Haskins one clear chance to push Rudolph for that #2 spot. He’ll need to play as well as he did against the Eagles to have a legitimate shop at becoming Roethlisberger’s backup.