Jan 3, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) warms up before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Mason Rudolph: Goal is to succeed Roethlisberger as Steelers’ starter

Mason Rudolph may be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 2 quarterback entering the 2021 season, but he said he’s preparing to start for the storied franchise when the time arrives.

“That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league and for our team, and I’m working toward that goal every single day,” Rudolph said Tuesday. “I can only control myself and the way I prepare and the way I approach and play in OTAs and camp, and that’s on the forefront of my mind.

“I’m not worried about ‘22 or anything like that. I’m trying to live in the moment and be the best I can for my team.”

Ben Roethlisberger is entering his 18th season in the NFL after signing a restructured contract that included a pay cut over the offseason. He’s spent the entirety of his pro career in Pittsburgh and won two Super Bowls with the Steelers.

But Roethlisberger — who in 2018 was critical of the team’s decision to take a quarterback, Rudolph, in the third round of the draft — is 39 and not signed beyond 2021. Two other quarterbacks on the Steelers’ roster, Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs, are also only signed for one season.

Rudolph signed an extension in April that will take him through 2022 with the Steelers.

Rudolph started eight games in 2019 after Roethlisberger needed season-ending surgery on his throwing elbow. He led the Steelers to a 5-3 record in those games, and for the season, he finished with a 62.2 percent completion percentage, 1,765 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Rudolph also started in Week 17 for Pittsburgh in 2020.

“I think you’re always excited and looking forward to competition,” Rudolph said. “You know that it’s going to be there each and every year, it’s just a matter of who. … Competition makes everybody better, and you look forward to that, especially in the offseason.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) warms up before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers extend backup QB Mason Rudolph’s contract

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Thursday they signed backup quarterback Mason Rudolph to a one-year extension.

The deal keeps Rudolph signed though the 2022 season as starter Ben Roethlisberger’s deal ends at the conclusion of the 2021 season in a deal negotiated earlier this offseason. Roethlisberger enters the season at age 39.

Reports put Rudolph’s deal at $3 million for the next two seasons, with yet-undisclosed incentives to get it to go higher.

The 25-year-old Rudoph has played in 15 games for the Steelers after being picked in the third round in 2018, throwing for 2,089 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has compiled a 5-4 record in nine starts.

–Field Level Media

2018 NFL Draft: Rosen takes early lead in QB race

College football is back, as evidenced by UCLA completing one of the greatest comebacks in history against Texas A&M this past week.
The Bruins stormed back from a 44-10 deficit late in the third quarter to emerge victorious, 45-44. The improbable comeback was largely attributed to the heroics of UCLA’s Junior quarterback – and touted 2018 draft prospect – Josh Rosen.
UCLA’s offense struggled early, as last season’s pass protection woes continued to prove problematic, while Rosen only completed about 50 percent of his first-half throws. However, evaluators will have noted multiple positives: Rosen took a balance of snaps both under center and in the shotgun with ease, he consistently compensated for an extreme lack of protection with a quick read + release, as well as exhibiting good pocket-mobility.
As the Bruins’ offense upped its tempo in the beginning of the fourth quarter, Josh Rosen seemingly developed a better rhythm and looked increasingly comfortable while moving the ball downfield in 10-15 yard increments. Methodical, cerebral, and never putting ball security at risk.
Comeback aside, what set Rosen’s performance apart from his 2018 quarterback classmates in week 1 was his ability to control the opposing secondary with look-offs and pump fakes. The second-half tape was ripe with NFL-esque window throws, and – to my quiet intrigue – Rosen would often change his arm angle dependent on the play, adjusting the release point of passes in order to avoid interference from defenders.
It was hardly a perfect game from the 2014 USA Today HS All-American, but mental fortitude is paramount in the evaluation game for quarterbacks. USC’s blue-chip passer Sam Darnold – who Rosen will compete with for the distinction of top eligible quarterback in this year’s draft – has a signature performance under his belt after last season’s Rose Bowl, and now Rosen has his.
Josh Rosen stat line vs. Texas A&M: 35/59 (59.3%), 491 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT, 2 fumbles (2 lost)
Elsewhere…
•  Speaking of Sam Darnold: the Trojans’ redshirt-Sophomore passer got off to a painfully slow start against upstart Western Michigan at home. He was lacking intermediate-long range potency, completing mostly short-range passes in bunches. He finished with no touchdowns and two interceptions, but his team won. Darnold faces Stanford on prime time this weekend.
• Many people are hot on imposing Wyoming gunslinger Josh Allen, but for now the big-armed passer with size I’m fixated on is Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. Though his Cowboys faced lowly Tulsa, good players take advantage of poor competition. He was dialed in from the outset, completing 20/24 passes (83.3%), for 303 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT. Rudolph’s first real test this season comes week 3 at Pittsburgh.
• While on the subject of Josh Allen, Wyoming’s offense was a horror show at Iowa converting just 5 of 18 third downs. Allen is purely a shotgun passer and while he flashed his elite arm talent and pocket athleticism, his performance was littered with dangerous throws. Though he’d occasionally throw the ball away on the scramble when running out of space, he would often fall susceptible to trusting his arm too much. His day ended 23/40 (57.5%), 174 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs. The next test evaluators will eagerly await is when Oregon comes to Laramie on September 16 for week 3. To me, the Carson Wentz comparisons are lazy, but Allen’s talent base is undeniable.
• Lastly, Louisville’s elite dual-threat (and Heisman candidate) Lamar Jackson picked up where he left off last year, completing 65.2% of his week 1 passes against Purdue, throwing for 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT + 107 yards rushing. For what it’s worth, Washington State gunslinger Luke Falk completed 84.6% for 311 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT against minnow Montana State. He’ll face Boise State at home next week and his performance this year could elevate him into the first round.
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