Devlin Hodges will make his first NFL start this Sunday for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football, as the team has ruled Mason Rudolph out for this week’s game with a concussion.
Hodges, 23, will be the third quarterback to start a game this season for the Steelers.
Starter Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season with an elbow injury suffered in Week 2 and backup Mason Rudolph suffered a concussion in the Steelers’ Week 5 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and remains in the league’s concussion protocol.
Hodges filled in for Rudolph in the second half of Sunday’s game, completing 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards. He directed a pair of second-half scoring drives as the Steelers attempted to come back from an early hole, only to see the Steelers lose the game in overtime after a JuJu Smith-Schuster fumble.
He took all of the first-team reps in practice this week, as Rudolph was a limited participant. It’s been a long journey from a player that came to Pittsburgh as a rookie camp tryout, but Hodges has earned the respect of his coaches and fellow players.
“He’s had a foundation,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said on Thursday. “He’s been with us the whole time. He spent the first week of the season not on the roster, but he’s been with us all through spring, all through fall camp. Devlin is a guy, like I said, a lot like Mason. He loves the game. It’s hard to kick him out of the building. He keeps his ears open and his mouth shut. I think that’s pretty good for a young quarterback in an ability to learn.”
An FCS All-American at Samford, Hodges had plenty of success at the collegiate level. Nicknamed “Duck” for his proficiency at duck calling — he’s won a national championship — the quarterback has shown a calm and poise beyond his experience level so far in the NFL.
Now, Duck will be thrown into the water. Time to sink or swim.