PITTSBURGH — On Tuesday, the Steelers re-signed quarterback Devlin Hodges to their practice squad, bringing back one of the most popular players that suited up for the Black and Gold this preseason.
Hodges originally joined the team as a try-out to rookie minicamp after going undrafted out of FCS Samford, but first made the 90-man roster and then made an impression when he got an opportunity in the preseason. The champion duck caller also made himself a household name with his underdog story and down-to-earth roots.
Hodges was one of the team’s final cuts, but after trading third-string quarterback Josh Dobbs to Jacksonville, the Steelers brought Hodges back. He announced the signing on social media with a graphic of a duck wearing his No. 6 Steelers jersey, and the fanbase quickly latched on with thousands of likes and hundreds of shares.
— Devlin Hodges (@DevlinHodges10) September 10, 2019
Steelers Now and other members of the media caught up with Hodges after his first practice back with the team on Wednesday. Below is a lightly edited transcript.
SN: What has it been like having the fan base appreciate you the way they have and welcome you back in that way?
Hodges: “It’s awesome. I never thought I’d tweet a little cartoon with a Steelers jersey and get all of the reactions and stuff I had. Yeah, it’s awesome to have a good fanbase, even behind guys like me, who are the third team quarterback and practice squad guy. It just shows that the fans really care about just everyone here and the organization.”
“When they cut you, did they say, ‘you know what, we like you, but you know stay around if something happens. Is that how it went?
“Yeah, they said I did a good job this preseason, and just said hey, you need to go back and workout. They were like, you never know what can happen. I’m sure that a lot of people say that, and I didn’t think that it would happen so quick and so soon. I didn’t think I would be back here just a week later. It was a nice little week home, but I’m definitely glad to be back and be around the group of guys that we got in this locker room.”
“What’d you do at home? Did you relax? Or did you kind of just workout?”
“I worked out a time or two, but really with everything going on I just kind of cleared my mind. You know, I have kind of been through a lot. Just as far as going from the undrafted guy, to making a team on a trial, and being here all camp and making a name for myself. It was just a good time to sit down and clear my mind and think about, you know, what are some options that could come up and what I’ll do. But as soon as I got the call from Pittsburgh, that they want me back, I didn’t think twice about it.”
SN: “Are you running scout team?”
“Yeah, I’m running scout team and I don’t think there’s any reason why I can’t get better running the scout team. You’re still competing each and every day. It might not be plays that we run, but just kind of learning football, I can get better each and every day.”
On the pace you’re on here, you’ll be starting by November?
“Easy, easy, easy! I’m just taking it one day at a time and I just want to compete and give the defense a good look. I mean, honestly, I try to go out there each and every play and try to pick apart our defense. I think that’s one way I can get better and will help the defense, if I can do that and give them something to watch and learn from. I’m just glad to be back, you know, playing football. I love football and everything about it. Just to be in the locker room and the camaraderie of the team, I just enjoy it all.”
Being practice squad is not the active, but you go to the meetings, and you’re around it. It seems like a natural transition to set you up for your future.
“Yeah, I mean I’m the number three quarterback. It doesn’t matter if I’m on the practice squad or number three. I go to all the meeting and I learn. I know all of the installs that we put in. I know the game plan each week, I mean I’m still involved just like I was when I was here before I left and I’m just another active quarterback.”
First practice, Ben isn’t practicing. Do you get more reps that way?
“Yeah, it’s nice. I remember them telling me before I left, they were like, ‘On Wednesdays, Ben doesn’t practice a lot, so the other guys will get a lot.’
When I got here Monday night, I was like well, we are off Tuesday and Wednesday is first practice. I might get to practice a lot. It was awesome to just jump back in where I left off and I just really enjoyed it.”