‘This Guy’s A Dog:’ Mason Rudolph Describes Relationships With George Pickens And Diontae Johnson

No NFL team goes into the season wanting its backup quarterback to see the field except to lead the victory formation, never mind the third-string quarterback. The Pittsburgh Steelers are no different, but they’re in a better situation than most after Mason Rudolph re-signed as the team’s third-string quarterback. Rudolph spoke Friday on the Steel Here podcast with Kevin Adams and Jersey Jerry about his time in Pittsburgh, including the relationship he’s forged with receiver Diontae Johnson.

“Yeah [I] love [Diontae],” Rudolph said. “Seeing the way he’s matured through his career. We have a good relationship, we played a lot together in ‘19…. He’s a darn good receiver, he gets a lot of separation.”

As Rudolph mentioned, he and Johnson built that relationship and rapport on the field quite a bit in 2019, Johnson’s rookie season. In the eight games Rudolph started that season, he and Johnson connected for 26 receptions 324 yards and three touchdowns, a pretty impressive stat line for a rookie receiver. Rudolph even came on in relief for Devlin Hodges in Week 16 and threw a 29-yard strike to Johnson for a score to close the half, meaning all but one of Johnson’s rookie touchdowns came from Rudolph.

The relationship goes both ways, as Johnson gave a public vote of confidence for Rudolph to start a game last year against the Carolina Panthers.

Rudolph was also asked his thoughts on rookie receiver George Pickens and the strong impression he made last year.

“From the beginning, he was making one-handed catches,” Rudolph told the show. “I think about the one in Cleveland in the game, he’s done things 10 times more impressive in practice…. from the jump you know this guy’s a dog.”

The catch Pickens made in Cleveland was one of the most impressive around the league all season, and based on Rudolph’s comments, it was no fluke.

While Rudolph may not get a whole lot of reps with Pickens or Johnson this season, the Steelers organization and fans alike can take solace in the relationships that he has formed with two of the team’s top receivers. If the Steelers do end up with the worst-case scenario of Rudolph starting, at least it’s someone the coaching staff and receivers are familiar with and who knows his strengths.

And plus, not many teams are lucky enough to have a six-year team veteran with a winning record as a starter as their third-string quarterback.

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