As a football fan, the purpose of the preseason can both be seen in a positive and negative light. On the positive side, it’s a sign that football is back as NFL teams square off against one another on television for all of us to watch new additions to our favorite teams via the draft, trade, or free agency. On the other hand, many fans are disinterested with preseason action since the team’s best players often sit out most, if not the entire game. This leads to a bunch of players who won’t make the final roster taking the field that many casual football fans won’t know.
If you are a Madden junkie like me, plenty of gamers will actually simulate the entire preseason to fast-forward to the games that actually matter in the regular season. However, as a guy obsessed with roster construction, I would play every preseason game in order to evaluate the best players on my roster and see where my team could improve before I went into the regular season. I follow the same process as a football fan when studying the Pittsburgh Steelers, watching every snap of preseason action to evaluate all the players on the roster to see who should win a starting job or get a roster spot.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph finds himself in a battle for the starting QB job this season with Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Rudolph never was in consideration for the starting QB job prior to this season with Ben Roethlisberger the entrenched starter, only getting starter’s reps when Ben went down to injury in 2019 or when he missed a game last season due to COVID.
While he may consider himself a starting caliber QB for this team, Rudolph doesn’t see himself as better than the preseason and the valuable live reps each game can provide a guy trying to win the starting job.
“I think as a competitor that you always want to play… I want to play the whole game,” Rudolph said to the media on video from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “That’s not the setup of the preseason. I’ve understood that since Day One of my rookie year, so whatever I get, I will be excited about it, and I will plan to lead the guys down the field.
Unless you are injured or are exhausted, it’s natural as an athlete to not want to come off the field. The competitive nature kicks in as you look to try and help your team be successful and win games, and in the NFL, that competitiveness is intensified amongst the best in the business. Rudolph gets this and wants to make his mark as he attempts to show the coaching staff that he is the best man for the job as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting quarterback in 2022.
To Rudolph’s credit, he has been probably the most consistent of the three so far this training camp. Per Alex Kozora’s charting, he has out-played Trubisky and Pickett to this point, showcasing poise and accuracy while also flashing a nice deep ball. He will now be tasked with making that training camp success translate to the stadium as he prepares to put his best foot forward against the Seattle Seahawks Saturday night.