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Steelers rookie Joshua Dobbs took his lumps like only a backup QB can in the preseason

It wasn't a great start for rookie quarterback Joshua Dobbs, as the Steelers opened preseason action against the Giants Friday night. But despite his early-game struggles, Dobbs showed resiliency and perhaps even some promise, as he bounced back to lead the team to a one-point lead at halftime.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

I believe the head-shake of disgust by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger—sans pads and helmet—late in Pittsburgh's 20-12 preseason victory over the Giants at MetLife Stadium said it all.

The head-shake came after a perfectly fine pass by fourth-string quarterback Bart Houston, who escaped some pressure before unleashing said pass, clanged off the hands of hopeful receiver Canaan Severin.

One has to presume Roethlisberger's disgust was the result of the dropped pass, and if he was disgusted, imagine how Houston felt.

But that's life as a backup quarterback in today's NFL—at least in the preseason.

You're not surrounded by the established in the huddle; you're surrounded by those hopefuls, like Severin, players trying to get noticed—and not for all the wrong reasons.

Such was the case for rookie third-string quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who started Friday night's affair thanks to Roethlisberger's established career and Landry Jones' injured oblique; despite getting the start, Dobbs did so surrounded by many backups and even a few of those fellow hopefuls trying not to get noticed for all the wrong reasons.

Of course, after a little over 30 minutes of action, it was clear that Dobbs wasn't at the mercy of the backups or fellow hopefuls; he was at the mercy of his own in-experience, as evidenced by his two rookie-like interceptions in the first half, the second pick coming on one of those sneaky zone blitz-schemes made popular by the legendary Dick LeBeau, who first came to Pittsburgh in the early-90's, back when Dobbs father was likely playing video games and still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

By the time he exited the game, Dobbs had completed eight of 15 passes for one touchdown and those two aforementioned interceptions.

Not great numbers by any stretch, but Dobbs did show resiliency, like with the 44-yard laser to not-yet-established-and-still-kind-of-hopeful receiver Cobi Hamilton in the second quarter that set up a Chris Boswell field goal.

Late in the second quarter, with the Steelers trailing 9-3, Dobbs found Hamilton once again, this time on a pretty 28-yard touchdown strike that came on the heels of Mike Hilton's recovery of a muffed punt.

Just like that, despite the ugliness, Dobbs had the Steelers in front by a point as they headed for the locker room.

When it comes to any regular season appearances, isn't that what a backup quarterback is supposed to do, just find a way to get the job done when the starter is out?

Back to Friday's performance. Fact is, had Houston put up those exact numbers, few would have even noticed. Had Jones posted that box score, let's just say more than a few would have had something to say about it.

But Dobbs was a special circumstance. Coming off the heels of Roethlisberger's hinted at retirement early in the offseason, he was brought in as a fourth round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.


Maybe. Maybe not.

Either way, quarterbacks picked in the fourth round don't usually start their very first preseason game.

It's not a stretch to say Dobbs' performance was looked at a little more closely than most rookies of his draft pedigree, and while the opinions on his first game will likely vary depending on the eyes viewing it, there's no question he still has a long way to go.

But what was it Albert Einstein said about making mistakes: "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

I don't go around quoting Einstein (I Googled that quote), but Dobbs, an aerospace engineer (not merely a rocket scientist like I've been saying), actually might.

In other words, Dobbs is one smart cookie, and while he certainly took his lumps in his professional football debut, the spotlight didn't seem too big for him.

Not a legendary start for Joshua Dobbs, but it was a start.

Was it the start of a memorable career? It all depends on how he responds to those first lumps.