Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: QB Mason Rudolph
Stock Value: Up
While there was some initial obfuscation about his status, the Steelers confirmed and revealed yesterday afternoon that second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph has indeed been cleared from the concussion protocol, stemming from a hit that he sustained from Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas a week and a half ago during their overtime loss to the AFC North leaders.
The head injury caused Rudolph to miss Sunday’s game, a largely comfortable victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on the road, with rookie undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges starting at quarterback. He completed 15 of his 20 pass attempts for 132 passing yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception.
This should go without saying, and it really shouldn’t have ever been in question, but Tomlin also confirmed yesterday that Rudolph is their starting quarterback going forward (for the remainder of the 2019 season) as long as he is healthy. In other words, there is no quarterback controversy. Hodges didn’t do anything close to creating that discussion.
So, a reiteration of a vote of confidence from your head coach and officially being cleared from the concussion protocol makes for an overall pretty good day. When the Steelers return to practice, so will Rudolph, and this time he won’t be working with the scout team, but rather the starters.
Hodges only completed five passes to wide receivers on Sunday, including one to JuJu Smith-Schuster, one to Donte Moncrief, one to Ryan Switzer (for minus-two yards), and two to fellow rookie Diontae Johnson. He completed two passes to his tight ends, and eight to his running backs.
The two wins the Steelers have had this year have come with their young quarterbacks playing a very conservative and risk-averse game, outside of a couple of shots here and there as a change of pace. Rudolph’s worked and led to a long touchdown. Hodges’ did not, and was intercepted.