Ready to Rock: Mason Rudolph Preparing for Potential Opportunity vs. Panthers
PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph has waited for his opportunity all season. After being demoted to third-string after the preseason, Rudolph rarely gets any team reps in practice and has yet to be active for a game thus far on the season. In fact, Rudolph has not received team reps in practice since training camp. But he bartered for a few during the bye week, and if called upon, doesn’t see anything that will hold him.
“It’s been a while,” Rudolph said. “I bartered with Mitch and Kenny to get a team rep each day. They gladly agreed. But before that, anything significant would have been training camp. I can shake off rust quickly.”
But will Rudolph start for the Steelers if Pickett can not go on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers? That remains to be seen, as Rudolph needs to have conversations with the Steelers coaches to see if that is something they are thinking. Regardless, Rudolph is preparing like he could start, just as he does every other week.
“We’ll talk about it today and tomorrow,” Rudolph said. “I’m waiting to hear my involvement. But I’m ready to rock here if I’m needed.”
Regardless, it’s far too early to tell if Rudolph will be needed at all. Kenny Pickett is still in the early stages of concussion protocol, and more than that, Rudolph does not know if it will be him or Trubisky who would get the start if Pickett is out. But it doesn’t take the competitor out of Rudolph. He wants to play against the Panthers if called upon.
“I’m a competitor, so of course, I want to play,” Rudolph said. “Every week, each day, I want to play, I want to practice. So I take advantage of the reps I do get. Any competitor wants to be out there for his team, winning, and putting his hand in the pile.”
Rudolph last started a game against the Detroit Lions in 2021. In that game, Pittsburgh tied the Lions. However, in his career, Rudolph’s record as a starter is 5-4-1. So, throughout the week, Rudolph is planning to put more pressure on himself, just as he has to keep up a level of play throughout the season thus far.
“I don’t get a lot of reps in practice, but finding time to find a throw here or there during special teams or individual drills is important,” Rudolph said. “I’m just putting pressure on myself to be perfect in individuals, in those short periods that I do have.”
Pittsburgh will head into the week and Mike Tomlin will address who the likely starter is on Tuesday during his usual press conference. For Rudolph, if he gets the opportunity, it could be a chance to showcase his talents once again in a Steelers uniform before he becomes a free agent in the offseason.