PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph wanted to play in the Steelers’ Week 6 game against the Los Angeles Chargers last Sunday.
Rudolph said on Monday that he was feeling fine as soon as the morning after he suffered a concussion that requires hospitalization against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 6.
But he wasn’t cleared by the league’s independent neurological evaluator, meaning that Devlin Hodges got the start.
Even though he wanted to play and was upset that he was unable to, Rudolph said that he respected that the process is meant to protect him.
“I feel like that because I’m a competitor,” Rudolph said. “I like to feel like I know my body. The though process from the specialist was that if you take a lesser hit, you could be out for longer and you can really do damage. I was just more vulnerable at that point. That was the opinion of the specialist and I didn’t really have a choice. Obviously, I wanted to. I think I’ll look back at this probably 10 years down the road and I’ll probably be glad that I did sit out for a week. But I was not happy in the moment.”
That meant that Rudolph spent last Sunday with a headset on the sideline, which was actually a relatively new experience for him. He didn’t dress as the Steelers’ third-string quarterback for the entire 2018 season and spent just one and a half games as the backup this season before Ben Roethlisberger was injured.
Now with some games under his belt as the starter, Rudolph said he was able to appreciate the experience and learn from it, even though he really wanted to be in the game.
“I think any game that you’re on the sidelines, whether you’re playing in it or not is useful to see a new defense, to see a new look, to be in a different stadium,” he said. “The communication, kind of trying to help Randy with calls that I knew Devlin liked. You’re kind of the offensive coordinator at that point. You’re trying to educate yourself in put yourself in the offensive coordinator’s shoes.
“Obviously, I wanted to be out there, but the specialist said not and I respected that and tried to do our best to help our team in any capacity.”
Rudolph said he had one previous concussion in high school, and that he didn’t suffer any lasting symptoms this time after being knocked out on the field.
“Probably the next morning, I felt fine,” he said. “I had a minor headache that night. The next morning I started to really come back. I slept really great. Never had any real symptoms like sensitivity to light. I think I’ve only had one concussion prior to in high school. I started feeling pretty good the next day and like I said, carried out all the testing physically and the mental stuff.”
Rudolph was back to taking the first-team reps at practice on Monday as the Steelers prepare to face the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in Week 8. He doesn’t expect any long-term issues to result from the hit, and he isn’t planning on changing the way he plays going forward.
“You can’t play looking over your shoulder,” he said. “I’m not going to think twice about it. I’m going to go play the way I’ve always played.”