PITTSBURGH — The Steelers believe in Devlin Hodges.
That’s a pretty incredible thing to say for a guy that arrived at the team’s rookie minicamp five months ago without a job.
But Hodges impressed enough during the team’s rookie minicamp to earn a spot on the 90-man roster. Then he impressed enough during training camp to earn a chance in the preseason games.
He completed seven of nine passes for 68 yards and though he didn’t make the 53-man roster, the Steelers called him back two weeks later to join the practice squad.
When Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season to an elbow injury, the Steelers had enough faith in Hodges that he was promoted to the active roster as the sole backup to Mason Rudolph.
Finally, when Rudolph was injured in Sunday’s critical divisional game against the Ravens, Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner didn’t hold back in throwing the 23-year-old Samford alum to the wolves in his first NFL appearance.
Hodges responded to their faith, driving a pair of late scoring drives that kept the Steelers in the hunt. His stat line isn’t necessarily what you’d call impressive: 7 of 9 for 68 yards and two scrambles for 20.
But the fact that the Steelers had the faith in him to do it at all says a lot.
“He’s a baller,” veteran guard David DeCastro said. “He set a lot of records at the 1-AA level. He doesn’t have a choice now.”
“I thought he played great,” said running back James Conner. “I thought he showed confidence. … He’s here for a reason. He’s on our 53-man for a reason. He’s active. I believe in him. The whole team believes in him.”
Perhaps most importantly, head coach Mike Tomlin heaped praise on his inexperienced signal-caller, just before sharply reminding a reporter that he doesn’t believe in moral victories.
“I thought he represented himself well,” Tomlin said. “I thought he gave us a chance. You have to tip your hat to him. You are talking about a guy that didn’t make our opening 53 and all those things, we know his story. You also have to acknowledge that he has done some good things at every step along the way through the team development process when given the opportunity and that is why he is in the position he is in.
“That is probably why he made the positive showing in spots that he did.”
Rudolph’s status for this Sunday’s game at Los Angeles in unknown, so if “Duck” is once again under center, the Steelers will know that he’s earned the right to be there and earned their trust to keep the team in the hunt.