If there’s a man who can give you throughout scouting report on Mason Rudolph, it’s James Washington. Washington has been catching passes from Rudolph since their days of tearing up the Big 12 at Oklahoma State. They were drafted together in 2018 and have been Steelers ever since. Rudolph got to make his first start of the season Sunday against Detroit and to hear Washington’s evaluation, Rudolph continues to make strides.
“I feel like he’s a little more poised now,” Washington told reporters after Wednesday’s practice in audio provided by the team. “He’s a little more calmer in there. He’s a familiar face to a lot of guys so I think we all kind of just look at him as a leader now.”
Rudolph made his tenth career NFL start Sunday, his first since the Week 17 finale last season. Washington’s assessment seems accurate with Rudolph handling pressure and chaos better than he showed in the past, a reasonable improvement to expect. Early in the game, he hauled in a high snap from Kendrick Green and still hit Ray-Ray McCloud on a first down. Throughout the game, the Lions sent plenty of pressure and Rudolph handled it well.
One of the biggest issues he had earlier in his career was handling pressure and overall pocket presence, crumbling against the rush, bailing on clean pockets, and creating more pressure for himself. Those issues aren’t nearly as problematic as they used to be, and allowing Rudolph’s game to grow. Throughout his first ten games, he was sacked 15 times. Over his last two, with 89 attempts, he’s been dropped just once.
Washington spoke highly of Rudolph’s ability to help the team win if he has to start again this Sunday night against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“As far as Mason, with him in there, I feel like we can win every game.”
Pittsburgh is still approaching Week 11 with Rudolph as its starter. Ben Roethlisberger remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and unable to practice with the team, participating virtually until he’s cleared protocol. We’ll have a breakdown of Rudolph’s performance tomorrow morning on Steelers Depot.