Workaholic: Mason Rudolph will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi Stadium, and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has confidence in the young signal caller for several reasons, one of them being his work ethic.
Rudolph is a football junkie, a guy who rarely shuts the football side of his mind down. It's that approach that can be a huge benefit to Rudolph as he steps in to replace Ben Roethlisberger, who is out for the year with an elbow injury that will require surgery.
"He is a worker. An absolute worker. He works 24/7," said Fichtner. "Sometimes I have to work hard to have a joke with him because he is just that serious. But that is a good thing. And I will work on my jokes, I am not that good at them. I don't have good punch lines. But he is that kind of guy. He is that worker, it matters to him, and he cares. He listened as a solider and as a confidant with Ben. There is a lot of in-helmet perspective that he didn't get in the year and a half he has been here, but I know he got a lot of it because he listens, and he pays attention. He works at his job. And he listened to Ben. That is part of the learning curve, too."
Dreams do come true: It's not often that what you dream about as a kid often comes to fruition, but that is just the case for quarterback Paxton Lynch, who was signed to the Steelers practice squad this week.
Lynch, who has family in Gallitzin, Pa, would come to the area each summer and while it was all about visiting family, there was something special they always did.
"I was a big Steelers fan when I was younger," said Lynch. "My dad's mom (Irene) lived in Pennsylvania so we would come for family reunions in the summer. We would come to Steelers training camp. We would hang out after practice and get autographs from the guys. I grew up a big Steelers fan.
"It's almost like a dream come true. As a kid you dream about playing in the NFL for your favorite team, and this is my favorite team. It's a great opportunity to be here. The organization has been a pleasure so far."
Lynch said he remembers watching his favorite players during practice, including a few quarterbacks – Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox and later Ben Roethlisberger.
"I had a poster of Kordell Stewart on my wall. Kordell was the guy. A 'Slash' poster," said Lynch. "I remember watching Tommy Maddox. I watched him in the XFL and then he came here. I remember coming to practice, watching Ben and all of those guys, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward.
"I have been a fan for a while. It's crazy how life works sometimes. You never know what is going to happen. I am really thankful for this opportunity to be a part of this organization."