Mike Tomlin has no plans to make a change at quarterback. But plans in the NFL can change in an instant. If Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback, not by choice but by injury, Tomlin is adamant Rudolph can step into the starter’s shoes. With Roethlisberger dealing with pec and hip injuries, Tomlin was asked about his level of confidence in Rudolph.
“I have a lot of confidence in Mason,” Tomlin said during his Tuesday press conference. “We’ve called on Mason in the past and he’s been able to play winning football for us. I think it’s reasonable to expect that to not only continue but to improve. I know he clocks in here every day with an attitude geared toward getting better and being that guy when called upon.”
Rudolph signed a one-year extension through 2022 this offseason and staved off any talk about losing the #2 job with a good-enough preseason coupled with Dwayne Haskins’ late summer struggles. He last appeared in a regular season game in Week 17 last year, starting the finale against the Cleveland Browns. Rudolph played arguably the best game of his career, completing only 56% of his passes but throwing two touchdowns and showing a live arm on downfield throws. He’s been active as the #2 for the Steelers’ first four games but has yet to log an offensive snap.
Roethlisberger’s status is unclear for the team’s Week 5 game against the Denver Broncos. Odds are, he’ll play, but Tomlin didn’t commit to that in his presser, lumping him in with other injured players like Kevin Dotson and Cam Sutton.
“Ben also has some hip issues relative to play. We’ll let their practice participation be our guide in terms of their availability.”
With the beating Roethlisberger has taken this year (shown below) the odds of Roethlisberger starting the next 13 games aren’t high. At some point, mid-game or at the start of one, the team will probably see Rudolph on the field. They’ll evaluate his performance to win this season but also with an eye towards the future and his chances of being the team’s starting QB Week 1 next season.
Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t played well this season. But I’ve been wincing watching him take some of the hits he’s absorbed through the first four games. Painful to watch.
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 5, 2021