The Pittsburgh Steelers are a fortunate team. When people spoke about training camp position battles, the vast majority of those debates were discussing depth, not starting roles. Sure, there was the battle at right tackle, which lasted about a week, but the hottest debate with fans was at backup quarterback.
Mason Rudolph vs. Joshua Dobbs.
After Mandatory Minicamp, Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Training Camp and 4 preseason games, the team turned the report of Rudolph beating out Dobbs and being the backup to Ben Roethlisberger official.
The second year quarterback from Oklahoma State understands the importance of his job, and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. It may seem hard to believe, but in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football, Mason Rudolph will be wearing a Steelers uniform for a regular season game for the first time in his professional career.
“It’s a chance for me to help our team, not that Ben needs any help, but for Randy and the staff, I’ll try to be another mind to push in the same direction and make sure we have a good game plan,” Rudolph told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after practice Monday.
Not only will he be the next man up during games moving forward, but Rudolph will also be seeing a huge increase in practice repetitions during the season. Something he didn’t get a lot of last year as the QB3 on the depth chart.
“That will be something to look forward to,” Rudolph said, “because you go from training camp every day getting a ton of reps to getting weaned down. That will be something to motivate yourself, then just to know you’re one play away.”
The battle between Rudolph and Dobbs wasn’t really that close, but winning the backup job has to be bittersweet for Rudolph. Yes, it is a job well done, but as a competitor he wants to play, and in the preseason he proved he could play. During the four preseason games Rudolph completed 28 of 43 passes for 368 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. All with a 65.1 completion percentage and 113.3 passer rating.
Fans have to hope Rudolph’s time doesn’t come soon, with the understanding Ben Roethlisberger provides the team with the best chance to win a Super Bowl, but for those who have been rooting for Rudolph to get a shot, he moved himself one step closer this year by performing well enough, and showing improvement, to be the primary backup.
If Rudolph is awarded the opportunities Dobbs received in 2018, spelling Roethlisberger on a couple occasions, it will be the first time Steelers fans will get to see what Rudolph can do in a real game setting, with and against starters, and all the pressure that accompanies regular season play.
Will that happen? Only time will tell.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the New England Patriots in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football.