With the upcoming rematch against the Cleveland Browns on tap, there was a concern about how the players would treat Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph after he avoided a suspension for his role in the Thursday night altercation with Myles Garrett. That will no longer be an issue. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday that Rudolph will be benched in favor of backup Devlin Hodges.
Speaking with reporters, Tomlin explained that Hodges provided a spark against the Bengals and that he hopes this trend continues with the battle against the Browns. Additionally, the coach clarified that this wasn't solely tied to the performance of Rudolph on Sunday. Injuries to the surrounding talent have certainly played a role in the lack of production. Although Tomlin did cite the increasing turnovers as a reason for Rudolph being benched.
As far as expectations, the Steelers head coach shied away from the topic. He simply explained that he wants Hodges to avoid mistakes. "I'm not going to talk expectations," Tomlin said. "I expect [Hodges] to not kill us."
This is the second start of the season for Hodges. He was the signal-caller against the Chargers in week 6 due to Rudolph missing time with a concussion. He completed 15-of-20 passes for 132 yards, a touchdown, and an interception in a 24-17 Pittsburgh win.
This news came on the heels of the Steelers taking Rudolph out of Sunday's game after he struggled to keep his team competitive against the Cincinnati Bengals. He had completed 50 percent of his 16 throws for 85 yards and one interception at the time. Hodges came into the game and reached 90 yards and a touchdown on his first two passing attempts.
Hodges, who is known as "Duck," finished the day 5-11 for 118 yards and the lone touchdown. He avoided any turnovers. The Steelers ultimately achieved a 16-10 victory to keep their season alive and maintain their lead ahead of the rival Browns. The Bengals, on the other hand, remained winless on the season.
While Tomlin won't anoint Hodges the starter for the remainder of the season, he will be giving the undrafted rookie ample opportunity to prove that he is the best option in town for the foreseeable future. Defeating the Cleveland Browns at home will go a long way toward winning him favor with the coaching staff.0comments
Rudolph was unable to deliver a victory in Cleveland while throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble. Can the Duck perform better? The answer is unclear, but Hodges could set himself up for future success with a strong performance against the Browns and in the ensuing matches against the Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, and Baltimore Ravens.
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