Aug 28, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) passes the ball against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Kenny Pickett rises to No. 2 on Steelers’ QB depth chart

Rookie Kenny Pickett will open the season as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backup quarterback, not Mason Rudolph.

The Steelers’ updated depth chart was released Tuesday ahead of Sunday’s Week 1 contest at Cincinnati.

Head coach Mike Tomlin named Mitch Trubisky as Pittsburgh’s starting signal-caller on Monday.

“Mitch Trubisky is our starting quarterback and our captain. We’re just really comfortable with what Mitch brings us,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “He comes to us with franchise quarterback credentials. He took care of the football. All of our quarterbacks did. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that. It’s good to make a decision based on what people are doing, not what they’re not doing.

“Mitch is really comfortable in those shoes. Really pleased with the growth and development of Kenny, that’s why he’s No. 2. I thought his growth and development really took off when we started stepping into stadiums. I thought he grew and grew at a really fast pace. I think it’s reasonable to expect that growth and development to continue.”

Pickett, 24, was the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Pitt. He completed 29 of 36 passes for 261 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason.

Rudolph, 27, is entering his fourth season with the Steelers. He is 5-4-1 as a starter, passing for 2,366 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 17 games.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) warms up before an AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers GM: Mason Rudolph starting QB if season started today

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert let the cat out of the bag in regard to the team’s new starting quarterback.

Well, for now.

“If we started a season today, Mason (Rudolph) would be our starter,” Colbert said Monday, via ESPN. “He’s 5-4-1 as a starter. We’re excited to see what’s next for Mason.”

Colbert was giving the nod to Rudolph over pending restricted free agent Dwayne Haskins as the Steelers look for a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, who retired after 18 seasons with the team.

Rudolph, 26, posted a 5-3 record in eight starts in 2019 when Roethlisberger was sidelined with an elbow injury. He threw for 1,765 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions that season.

Overall, Rudolph has thrown for 2,366 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 picks in 17 career games (10 starts).

Haskins, 24, didn’t see any action for the Steelers this past season. He went 3-10 as a starter over the previous two campaigns for Washington before being released late in the 2020 season. He passed for 2,804 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Colbert noted the Steelers are looking to add competition to their quarterback ranks, whether through free agency or the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft. The Steelers hold the 20th overall pick.

Roethlisberger completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 64,088 yards and 418 touchdowns in 249 career games, 247 of them starts for the Steelers. Roethlisberger was the 2004 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Colbert is stepping down as GM after the draft.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) runs the ball against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The game ended in a 16-16 tie. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers prep Mason Rudolph to start, hope for Big Ben’s return

Backup quarterback Mason Rudolph will be ready to go Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but coach Mike Tomlin is leaving the door open for Ben Roethlisberger to start against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Roethlisberger is on the reserve/COVID-19 list after testing positive on Saturday, despite being fully vaccinated. He’ll need to have two negative tests and be asymptomatic to return to the active roster to play against the Chargers.

“We’re going to build our plan around getting Mason ready to play,” Tomlin said. “We’re going to highlight his talents and skills relative to the opponents that we’re intending to play. We’re going to build that plan, work that plan. We’ve got a young offensive unit, and we’ll let that lead us throughout the week.

“If we get to a point in the week where Ben has an opportunity to get to a moving train, that’s exactly what he’ll do. He’ll be capable of executing the game plan.”

Rudolph, 26, started last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, a game that ended in a 16-16 tie. He completed 30 of 50 pass attempts for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

He has a 5-4-1 career record as a starter subbing for Roethlisberger.

Tomlin said Roethlisberger will take part in team meetings virtually and that practice time won’t be a concern. He has a track record of playing for the Steelers (5-3-1) when some thought he wouldn’t.

“He’s been injured and had personal discomfort in the past over the course of the 15 years we’ve worked together, he always answers that bell,” Tomlin said. “We’ll definitely leave the light on for him.”

Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also is on the reserve/COVID-19 list but isn’t expected to be available against the Chargers (5-4), Tomlin said.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) warms up before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Mason Rudolph: Goal is to succeed Roethlisberger as Steelers’ starter

Mason Rudolph may be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 2 quarterback entering the 2021 season, but he said he’s preparing to start for the storied franchise when the time arrives.

“That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league and for our team, and I’m working toward that goal every single day,” Rudolph said Tuesday. “I can only control myself and the way I prepare and the way I approach and play in OTAs and camp, and that’s on the forefront of my mind.

“I’m not worried about ‘22 or anything like that. I’m trying to live in the moment and be the best I can for my team.”

Ben Roethlisberger is entering his 18th season in the NFL after signing a restructured contract that included a pay cut over the offseason. He’s spent the entirety of his pro career in Pittsburgh and won two Super Bowls with the Steelers.

But Roethlisberger — who in 2018 was critical of the team’s decision to take a quarterback, Rudolph, in the third round of the draft — is 39 and not signed beyond 2021. Two other quarterbacks on the Steelers’ roster, Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs, are also only signed for one season.

Rudolph signed an extension in April that will take him through 2022 with the Steelers.

Rudolph started eight games in 2019 after Roethlisberger needed season-ending surgery on his throwing elbow. He led the Steelers to a 5-3 record in those games, and for the season, he finished with a 62.2 percent completion percentage, 1,765 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rudolph also started in Week 17 for Pittsburgh in 2020.

“I think you’re always excited and looking forward to competition,” Rudolph said. “You know that it’s going to be there each and every year, it’s just a matter of who. … Competition makes everybody better, and you look forward to that, especially in the offseason.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) warms up before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers extend backup QB Mason Rudolph’s contract

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Thursday they signed backup quarterback Mason Rudolph to a one-year extension.

The deal keeps Rudolph signed though the 2022 season as starter Ben Roethlisberger’s deal ends at the conclusion of the 2021 season in a deal negotiated earlier this offseason. Roethlisberger enters the season at age 39.

Reports put Rudolph’s deal at $3 million for the next two seasons, with yet-undisclosed incentives to get it to go higher.

The 25-year-old Rudoph has played in 15 games for the Steelers after being picked in the third round in 2018, throwing for 2,089 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has compiled a 5-4 record in nine starts.

–Field Level Media

2018 NFL Draft: Rosen takes early lead in QB race

College football is back, as evidenced by UCLA completing one of the greatest comebacks in history against Texas A&M this past week.
The Bruins stormed back from a 44-10 deficit late in the third quarter to emerge victorious, 45-44. The improbable comeback was largely attributed to the heroics of UCLA’s Junior quarterback – and touted 2018 draft prospect – Josh Rosen.
UCLA’s offense struggled early, as last season’s pass protection woes continued to prove problematic, while Rosen only completed about 50 percent of his first-half throws. However, evaluators will have noted multiple positives: Rosen took a balance of snaps both under center and in the shotgun with ease, he consistently compensated for an extreme lack of protection with a quick read + release, as well as exhibiting good pocket-mobility.
As the Bruins’ offense upped its tempo in the beginning of the fourth quarter, Josh Rosen seemingly developed a better rhythm and looked increasingly comfortable while moving the ball downfield in 10-15 yard increments. Methodical, cerebral, and never putting ball security at risk.
Comeback aside, what set Rosen’s performance apart from his 2018 quarterback classmates in week 1 was his ability to control the opposing secondary with look-offs and pump fakes. The second-half tape was ripe with NFL-esque window throws, and – to my quiet intrigue – Rosen would often change his arm angle dependent on the play, adjusting the release point of passes in order to avoid interference from defenders.
It was hardly a perfect game from the 2014 USA Today HS All-American, but mental fortitude is paramount in the evaluation game for quarterbacks. USC’s blue-chip passer Sam Darnold – who Rosen will compete with for the distinction of top eligible quarterback in this year’s draft – has a signature performance under his belt after last season’s Rose Bowl, and now Rosen has his.
Josh Rosen stat line vs. Texas A&M: 35/59 (59.3%), 491 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT, 2 fumbles (2 lost)
•  Speaking of Sam Darnold: the Trojans’ redshirt-Sophomore passer got off to a painfully slow start against upstart Western Michigan at home. He was lacking intermediate-long range potency, completing mostly short-range passes in bunches. He finished with no touchdowns and two interceptions, but his team won. Darnold faces Stanford on prime time this weekend.
• Many people are hot on imposing Wyoming gunslinger Josh Allen, but for now the big-armed passer with size I’m fixated on is Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. Though his Cowboys faced lowly Tulsa, good players take advantage of poor competition. He was dialed in from the outset, completing 20/24 passes (83.3%), for 303 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT. Rudolph’s first real test this season comes week 3 at Pittsburgh.
• While on the subject of Josh Allen, Wyoming’s offense was a horror show at Iowa converting just 5 of 18 third downs. Allen is purely a shotgun passer and while he flashed his elite arm talent and pocket athleticism, his performance was littered with dangerous throws. Though he’d occasionally throw the ball away on the scramble when running out of space, he would often fall susceptible to trusting his arm too much. His day ended 23/40 (57.5%), 174 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs. The next test evaluators will eagerly await is when Oregon comes to Laramie on September 16 for week 3. To me, the Carson Wentz comparisons are lazy, but Allen’s talent base is undeniable.
• Lastly, Louisville’s elite dual-threat (and Heisman candidate) Lamar Jackson picked up where he left off last year, completing 65.2% of his week 1 passes against Purdue, throwing for 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT + 107 yards rushing. For what it’s worth, Washington State gunslinger Luke Falk completed 84.6% for 311 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT against minnow Montana State. He’ll face Boise State at home next week and his performance this year could elevate him into the first round.
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