Dec 31, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) and running back Najee Harris (22) celebrate after Harris scored a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

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Steelers stick with QB Mason Rudolph, rule out OLB T.J. Watt

Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph remains the No. 1 quarterback for Pittsburgh as the playoffs begin.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said pass rusher T.J. Watt (knee) is out for the wild-card game with the Buffalo Bills but safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will be back on Sunday.

“We’ll stay with Mason Rudolph,” Tomlin said. “We’re just simply staying with the hot hand, not upsetting the apple cart. He’s been in some tough circumstances, and he’s delivered.”

Rudolph has three touchdowns and no interceptions since taking over for backup-turned-starter Mitchell Trubisky, who was starting in place of injured Kenny Pickett.

“He’s making good decisions. There’s a cumulative body of work. Mason’s been here a long time,” Tomlin said of his confidence in Rudolph.

Fitzpatrick missed the past three games with a knee injury.

He began the week as limited in practice, but Tomlin said that’s more of a precaution than commentary on his readiness to play. He’ll be reunited with strong safety Damontae Kazee, who is back with the Steelers from a three-game suspension for a series of borderline illegal hits.

Watt has 19.0 sacks and helped the Steelers surge into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak to end the season. Alex Highsmith is second on the team with 7.0 sacks, but recorded just one in the past four games.

“Playing without T.J. is significant,” Tomlin said. “It’s not going to be a one-man job replacing T.J. … T.J.’s one of a kind.”

Tomlin consistently repeats the team has a “next man up” mentality and said he will not be surprised when someone steps up and plays well.

“We’ve got depth at that position. I’m comfortable with the quality of depth,” he said. “We have guys that are capable.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.


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