Mike Tomlin announces the team will start Duck Hodges.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 26, 2019
"The decision is clear for us."
Tomlin addressed the situation as to why they went with Hodges over Mason Rudolph specifically for this week against the Browns.
Mike Tomlin says starting Devlin Hodges is not a statement on #Steelers’ “intended plans” for Mason Rudolph or what they view his “trajectory” to be. But says Mason “hasn’t protected the ball. I got a lot of patience for young guys, but one thing we got to do is protect the ball”— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 26, 2019
As for the long term starter at the position, Tomlin is only specifying who the starter is for the next game. Beyond that, it will be a week-to-week decision as to who will start under center for the Steelers to give them the best chance to win.
Tomlin said the call to start Duck is for this week only. Not committing to starting him for the rest of the season.— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) November 26, 2019
Coach Tomlin also admitted that some of the struggles with Rudolph lately has not been completely on him as the Steelers have been decimated with injuries on the offensive side of the ball. Even with injuries as a factor, there is still no excuse for sub-par play.
Tomlin makes it clear that Rudolph's recent dip play isn't solely on him: "We've been bogged down a lot lately. I know player availability had something to do with it. Things don't happen in a vacuum."— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 26, 2019
As for Rudolph’s future with the team in 2019 and beyond, Coach Tomlin stated this is not any indication as to Rudolph’s future with the organization.
Tomlin on Duck: "It goes beyond Mason and his performance. Maybe some of those (injuries to other players) things have worn away at his play." He said move means nothing about Rudolph's forseeable future with the team.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) November 26, 2019
When it comes to what they expect from Hodges on Sunday, Tomlin expected the same result as what he said following Hodges’ win in Los Angeles over the Chargers.
As to why Hodges became the starter over Rudolph specifically for this week, Tomlin referenced the spark he gave the offense when he came onto the field in the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in the Steelers’ 16–10 win in Week 12.
Tomlin continues to praise the energy that Duck Hodges brought when he came into the game.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 26, 2019
That's the biggest intangible that makes Hodges the starter over Rudolph this week.
Hodges will be starting his second career game in the NFL, and his first at Heinz Field this Sunday. With the prior incident against the Browns looming over both teams, everyone is bracing for a physical and heated matchup. With Hodges being known for his composure in his limited work during the regular season, perhaps his confidence will be more than just a spark in order to secure a victory for the Steelers on Sunday.
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