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Mike Tomlin: Mason Rudolph Close to Return, Will Start

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PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph remains in the NFL concussion protocol, but he is nearing a full return to health, and will be the team’s starter when that happens, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Wednesday.

Tomlin was asked directly if Rudolph will be the starter over Devlin Hodges once he returns from his injury, and he gave a no-nonsense response.

“That guy is our quarterback when he clears the protocol and it’s as simple as that,” Tomlin said. “I appreciate the efforts of Duck and so forth, but as soon as he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”

The Steelers canceled practice on Wednesday, but if they had participated, Tomlin said Rudolph was expected to be a full participant. The team will have the rest of the week off for their bye, so Rudolph’s next chance at practicing will come next week.

“Really, there’s no extreme urgency in terms of getting him out of the protocol because we don’t work again until Monday,” Tomlin said. “He’s been fully cleared to participate in things that we’ve been doing. … It’s probably semantics in terms of him getting clearance.”

Rudolph was a limited participant in practice in the week leading up to the Steelers’ Week 6 win over the Chargers and even traveled with the team to Los Angeles.

He suffered a concussion that required hospitalization in the Steelers’ Week 5 game against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 6.

Hodges played fairly well in Rudolph’s absence, completing 22 of 29 for 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception and a 91.2 passer rating, prompting some to suggest that Hodges should start a week from Monday against the Miami Dolphins.

But Tomlin quickly put that to bed on Tuesday, while also praising Hodges’ play.

“He didn’t kill us,” Tomlin said. “That’s what you need from young quarterbacks.”

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