It feels like it wasn’t all that long ago that grisly ‘old’ (turned 30 in the summer) veteran center Maurkice Pouncey had a hard time letting anybody not named Ben Roethlisberger put his hands under his butt. There was a time early in Landry Jones’ career that they were not using Pouncey with the rest of the starting line when Jones was getting snaps. He had to earn working with the All-Pro center.
I don’t know if Mason Rudolph was subjected to any kind of initiation hazing in that regard, but if he has, it’s long been in the past. Pouncey, and really everybody on the offensive line, have shown very clearly that they are behind their young starter for the duration of the 2019 season after Roethlisberger went down.
Even after his backup, Devlin Hodges, came in and started and won a game.
“He’s won the spot”, Pouncey said of Rudolph and his starting job, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s done enough to show he’s won the trust of the whole entire organization and the front office. So to say he got knocked out of the game and now he’s going to get Wally Pipp-ed? Nah, nah, nah, no one will go for that”.
Rudolph has four games of action under his belt with three starts. He’s thrown seven touchdown passes to two interceptions. His resume is far from extensive (Hodges has two games of action and one start, not a substantial difference).
So it’s interesting and notable to hear Pouncey so vocal when asked about the possibility of Rudolph having his starting job taken from him by Hodges after missing a game due to a concussion. “No one will go for that”, he said, speaking for the locker room.
“We already knew” that Rudolph would be the guy when he came back, he said. “When you’re a third-round draft pick, they draft you to come in produce at a high level. If you get hurt, they don’t take your spot just because a person had a good game”.
It should be clear, though, that this wasn’t a reflection on Hodges, but really just how much he and the rest of the team like and believe in Rudolph. They like and believe in Hodges, too.
“Duck understands”, the veteran center said about Hodges’ role, moving back to a backup position. ”Mason went out there and balled out. It was just an unlucky play that he got hit, and the next man has to step up. Duck will be ready if anything else happens”.
Not that they have much choice. Roethlisberger is on the Reserve/Injured List. Even Joshua Dobbs is in Jacksonville. It’s Rudolph, and then it’s Hodges. If they get to Paxton Lynch, then they’re really in trouble.