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Mason Rudolph reportedly sees increased first team reps in Steelers practice

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Could this be a sign of a short leash for Devlin Hodges?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It was a 4 interception game which put Mason Rudolph on a short leash with the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff. This occurred in a Week 11 prime time loss to the Cleveland Browns on the shores of Lake Eerie. The next week, a trip to Cincinnati, saw Rudolph benched in the third quarter after a red-zone interception and a floundering offense.

His replacement, Devlin Hodges, is coming off his own 4 interception game on Sunday Night Football in Week 15, and many are wondering if Mike Tomlin will follow the same guide he set for Rudolph and shorten the leash for Hodges as the team travels to Metlife Stadium to play the New York Jets.

Tomlin was asked about his leash on Hodges during his Tuesday press conference. His response was candid:

“I don’t anticipate or plan for failure. I anticipate him doing great. I anticipate him responding to the challenge. I anticipate him doing a great job of moving our offense and taking care of the ball. I haven’t pondered the possibilities of that, and I won’t. I will cross that bridge if and when I come to it.”

While Tomlin said all the right things, how the team is handling the offense in practice is saying something entirely different. In fact, Rudolph has reportedly received more first team reps in practice this week, more than any other week since his demotion.

This per Jacob Klinger of PennLive.com:

Devlin Hodges remains Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback. And both Hodges and Mike Tomlin have said they don’t think about how short of a leash the undrafted rookie would have against the New York Jets on Sunday.

But whereas Hodges was given as many reps as possible since replacing Rudolph as the starter in Week 13, Washington said, this week coaches are having the former third-round pick practice in the same way Joshua Dobbs did behind Ben Roethlisberger last season. Dobbs was the No. 2 quarterback at the time.

This news came from wide receiver James Washington, who told Klinger about the situation in practice Wednesday.

“I think it was just, they were trying to give Mason a week to just kind of relax and just be to himself-type deal, I guess you could say,” Washington said. “And then now he’s back in the swing of things. He’s just to what he used to be.”

I wouldn’t read too much into this, just that the Steelers are making sure their emergency plan is still in place. If Hodges comes out and struggles, putting Rudolph into the game with some reps under his belt is never a bad thing.

Will this hurt Hodges from a preparation standpoint? That has yet to be seen, but when he received all of the first team reps prior to the prime time game at Heinz Field, everyone saw how that played out.

Let’s hope Rudolph isn’t needed, because if he is it would mean an injury, or ineffective play, was the result.

Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the New York Jets in Week 16.