A chant calling for quarterback Mason Rudolph to play broke out at the last Pittsburgh Steelers home game. Those fans may get their wish in Week 16.
After another subpar performance from Mitch Trubisky, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was non-committal on who would start behind center against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 16. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that regular starter Kenny Pickett could be back, but in all likelihood, Pickett won’t be able to return until Week 17.
That will force Tomlin to make a decision between Rudolph and Trubisky.
Rudolph made his last start more than two years ago in Week 10 of the 2021 season. Even still, he made it clear that he will be prepared to start against the Bengals.
“I would love to play for this team,” Rudolph told reporters, via The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Chris Adamski. “We will see. That’s a coaching decision. The game just ended. So, we will see what happens. That’s out of my hands.
“I am confident in the way I’ve stayed sharp all season, and this isn’t my rookie year. The staff always puts a good plan together, so if I get the nod, I’ll be ready to roll.”
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph Makes First Appearance Since 2021
The last time Rudolph started an NFL game, Ben Roethlisberger missed the contest due to COVID-19. Prior to December 16, though, Rudolph hadn’t even taken a regular season snap since the day after Christmas in 2021.
That playing drought ended in Week 15. Tomlin had seen enough of Trubisky after the veteran quarterback missed a wide open George Pickens for an interception in the fourth quarter. Rudolph finished the game.
“After (Trubisky’s second interception), that’s when I was told, ‘If we get the ball back, we’re gonna go your way,’” Rudolph told reporters according to Adamski.
By the time the Steelers received the ball back, there was only a little more than two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Therefore, Rudolph didn’t have much of a chance at an audition for the starting job in Week 16.
On 3 pass attempts, Rudolph had 2 completions for 3 yards. He also took a sack.
But just getting Rudolph some snaps in real game action for the first time in nearly two years clears a path for him to play a much bigger role on December 23.
“It was a good feeling to get back in,” Rudolph said. “But we have to move the ball there at the end of the game a little bit better than we did. It was a tough one.”
Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Stresses ‘Everything is on the Table’
Tomlin has become a bit of a broken record after losses. He almost always says something to the effect that the Steelers will make changes in some capacity.
He said that again following the loss in Indianapolis but really tried to emphasis that “everything is on the table” in terms of what changes could be made.
“Man, things will not continue the way that they are,” Tomlin told reporters in his postgame press conference. “We’re not going to keep doing the same things that we’re doing and expect or hope for a different result.”
Tomlin also declined to name a starting quarterback for next week.
“I don’t have answers as I sit here right now. I know that we better do some things differently,” Tomlin said when asked if Trubisky would start in Week 16. “We better approach some things differently. We’re not going to roll that ball out there like that next week.”
Rudolph is 5-4-1 in his NFL career as a starter. He has averaged 6.1 yards per pass with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 18 games.
Trubisky has posted a 5.9 yards per attempt average, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions on 107 pass attempts this season. He is 2-5 as a starter in two seasons with the Steelers.