The life of a third-string quarterback is not an easy one in the NFL, especially during the regular season. You can find work in training camp and spring training, but once it gets time to actually start winning some games that count, teams can’t afford to spend many, if any reps on a player who isn’t even going to dress at a position where the ideal is for one person to play the entire year.
That’s something veteran quarterback Mason Rudolph has had to juggle this year after having been a backup for the past three seasons. He’s now behind Kenny Pickett as the starter and Mitch Trubisky as the number two, but he has a fair chance of dressing next week for the first time in 2022 with Pickett dealing with a concussion.
That means he’s getting work, which he hasn’t gotten much of lately, as he told reporters yesterday—the very fact that he’s speaking to reporters, and reporters are speaking to him, giving an indication of the possibility of him being active this week.
“Bye week, I got one rep,” he said, via the team’s website. “I bartered with Mitch and Kenny to get a rep each day, and they gladly agreed. But before that, anything significant would’ve been training camp.”
Now that’s obviously not a knock against the Steelers or any team if they don’t get their third-string quarterback some work. A lot of teams don’t even carry a third quarterback, at least not on the 53-man roster. And the reality is that Rudolph has a lot more experience in this offense than Pickett, a rookie, and Trubisky, a vet free agent, have had.
But he’ll be getting work this week at the very least while Pickett works his way through the concussion protocol. For all we know, head coach Mike Tomlin might even be considering allowing Rudolph and Trubisky to compete for the right to start should Pickett fail to receive medical clearance in time for the Carolina game.
Trubisky did throw three interceptions on Sunday when he came into the game in relief of Pickett, after all, some very costly interceptions, two of them coming inside of field goal range. Tomlin was critical of that in his post-game remarks, understanding how crucial possession had been to their recent success.
If your backup is not protecting the football, then he’s not doing his job, and that is job number one. Don’t be the guy who loses the game is generally what they say about backup quarterbacks, and well, turning the ball over three times kind of lost the game, so would it really be shocking if they turned to somebody who already has three years of backup experience?
Rudolph did say that in spite of his lack of opportunities to get quality practice reps, he believes that any rust could be “shaken off quickly”. He’ll have this week of practice to be able to prove whether or not that’s true, and perhaps if he does that successfully enough, he might even start.