Camp Blog: All the news from Week 2

Sunday, August 16

Take a look at the Steelers preparing for the 2020 regular season at Heinz Field

A day to remember for Duck: As fans watched the beginning of the Steelers game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 of the 2019 season, there was a buzz going through the stands, and it wasn't a good one. After seeing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the field in the first half, he was a spectator in the second half, standing on the sidelines while Mason Rudolph took over.

Everyone wanted to know what was happening, why he wasn't playing. And soon they found out he was injured on the final series of the first half, done for the day, and eventually done for the season with an elbow injury.

As news started to spread, Devlin Hodges' phone started to blow up. And he couldn't believe the texts he was getting.

Roethlisberger was injured.

Had the news gotten out a few minutes sooner, Hodges likely would have been right there at Heinz Field hearing the buzz in the crowd. But as fate would have it, he actually left Heinz Field at halftime and missed it all.

"That day was crazy," said Hodges. "I went to the game and being a practice squad guy, we are sitting up in the stands. So, I was watching the game from there. I was sitting with practice squad guys. Sitting with the fans. I was watching and observing more. People didn't recognize any of us."

And while watching the game was important, there was something else going on. Being new to the team and Pittsburgh, signed to the practice squad just a few days before, he was also in the process of moving in. And the furniture he was waiting for was ready.

"When the first half of the game ended, I left because I had to go pick up furniture," said Hodges. "I get out of the stadium and one of my friends texted me and said Ben is hurt. I am looking on Twitter and I see Ben is out and Mason is playing, and I am like, oh man, I just left.

"I went and got my stuff moved in and the next day they said we are going to sign you. They asked if I was familiar with everything. Things took off like crazy. I didn't know if I was going to play as much as I did last year, but it was a blessing."

If you feel like you need a rewind after reading that, it's okay.

Yes, Hodges was watching his first game with the team from the stands. Yes, he left before he even knew Roethlisberger was hurt. And yes, it's rare that he has admitted this.

"It was my first time at Heinz Field for a real game," said Hodges. "It was a great atmosphere. At the same time, I was thinking it sucks. I can be down there. And the next week I was. It's crazy how things work."

From watching the games in the stands, to be introduced as the starting quarterback at Heinz Field. It definitely went from one extreme to another for Hodges last year.

"I don't know if there is a cooler moment in sports for me than being introduced at Heinz Field," said Hodges. "That is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

"I feel like I have grown as a player a lot. The first time I was thrown in there and did well. Even though I didn't play my best the last couple of games I grew, and I got better. Even though it might not have looked like it, that is what happened. I grew as a player understanding the concepts, understanding the defense, things that come with playing the game and especially the quarterback position."
While he grew, there are things he wants to work on during training camp, even going into his postseason meeting last January with Coach Mike Tomlin with a list.

"I want to work on some under center stuff, footwork, some pocket movement," said Hodges, who is battling for a backup spot with a healthy Roethlisberger back. "When it comes down to it, I want to work on everything and get better. I know I have the talent; it's how can we maximize the talent. I want to watch a lot of film, not really on me but maybe on Ben and how he does stuff, how he plays the game."

Friday, Aug. 14

Whyte believes in himself: Going into the 2019 season if any of these names were thrown at you for the leading rusher in one of the Steelers 16 games, you probably wouldn't have thought twice about it.

James Conner. Jaylen Samuels. Benny Snell.

With the way the Steelers have been known to mix things up in the running game, any one of the three being the leading rusher in a particular game wouldn't have come as a shock. And it would have even been more expected as injuries started to mount.

But throw another name out there and you might be a bit more surprised.

Kerrith Whyte.

A name that most Steelers fans probably weren't familiar with before he was signed by the team on Nov. 19 from the Chicago Bears practice squad, Whyte was tied for the team's leading rusher with Snell in a Week 14 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, it was 41 yards rushing, but at the same time remember he was on a different team's practice squad less than a month before that.

"Last year was a big blessing, it was a great year for me thank God," said Whyte. "Leaving school early, being drafted by the Chicago Bears, making the 53-man roster, being placed on the practice squad for a couple of weeks. Then to get the call from the Pittsburgh Steelers to come and play for them was an absolute honor. I am so grateful for the opportunity they have given me. To be able to play meaningful downs in games, it meant a lot. I will forever appreciate it.

"Hopefully it was the start of something. I believe in myself. I have so much more to show. I am happy how things played out. Hopefully I did turn some heads. I am going to continue to work and show my God-given talent."

Whyte, who is going through his first training camp with the Steelers, had his share of meaningful downs in just a short window with the Steelers. In fact, it started just days after he was signed, getting six carries for 43 yards in a Week 12 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals four days after coming to the Steelers.

"I am just happy they trusted me," said Whyte. "I got here and four days later played in my first game. It was unique. I appreciated that. When someone trusts you with the ball, that's what it's about. The game is about the ball. You respect the ball. Everything revolves around the ball. When somebody puts the ball in your hands and trusts you, that goes a long way. What you have to do then is take care of it. That football, it's a baby. You have to take care of that ball to stay in this league. Ball security means everything. Ball security is always number one. Without the ball you can't do anything. Ball security is the most important thing. I take pride in it. I know how meaningful the ball is."

Whyte, who played college ball at Florida Atlantic, was the Bears seventh round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He caught the attention of the Steelers and made a pre-draft visit to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. But it took time, and a different path, for him to make his way to the black and gold.

"Coming into the league I knew what it was all about, that it was a business," said Whyte. "Going through it is a little bit different. It took some adjustments. It was a little bit challenging, going to another atmosphere, another environment. It just took a little bit of time, but it's like anything in life, as time goes on things get better. You learn to adapt and adjust to new things.

"The guys here showed nothing but love from the moment I walked in. They took great care of me and I am appreciative of that. I would say everybody I came in touch with helped me. The running backs of course, because I was in contact with them the most. They showed me a lot of love and really took care of me. I took a little piece from everybody, from the coaching staff, the strength staff, the veterans in the room. They were all a part of the puzzle."

Take a look at the Steelers preparing for the 2020 regular season at Heinz Field

Take a look at the Steelers preparing for the 2020 regular season at Heinz Field