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Offseason Program

Long-term goal, short-term focus

Mason Rudolph came to the NFL with the intention of becoming a starting quarterback eventually, but he isn't approaching his upcoming fourth season with the Steelers as one in which he'll be their heir apparent.

"That's my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league and for our team and I'm working towards that goal every single day," Rudolph maintained after today's OTA. "I can only control myself and the way I prepare and the way I approach and play in OTAs and in (training) camp. 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."

Rudolph, a former third-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2018, has started nine games over the past two seasons, including one in 2020 (the regular-season finale at Cleveland), so he's at least been groomed to an extent as Ben Roethlisberger's eventual successor.

Rudolph is also the only quarterback on the roster under contract for 2022.

And Roethlisberger has been reluctant to commit to playing beyond the upcoming campaign, which will be his 18th NFL season and, potentially, his last.

But Rudolph insisted he isn't looking any further down the road than tomorrow's OTA.

"I don't think you really ever have any clarity or any idea what any team in this league is going to do year to year," Rudolph said. "I know I want to be a Steeler, stay in Pittsburgh and I have as good a chance as any here to accomplish my goals. But I don't get caught up in scenarios.

"I control myself and the way I perform and the way I work. I want to have a great practice tomorrow, and everything beyond that is going to fall where it may."

Practices this offseason include working with new assistant coach Mike Sullivan, who has coached quarterbacks and/or coordinated offenses for Tampa Bay, Denver and the New York Football Giants during his first 16 NFL seasons.

Sullivan replaced Matt Canada, who has taken over for Randy Fichtner as the Steelers' offensive coordinator.

"Mike's a long-time NFL coach," Rudolph noted. "He's been with Hall-of-Fame players, like Eli Manning, so it's been great with Mike.

"He's a drill guy. He's a structure, detail-oriented guy and he has a lot of information for us and he holds us accountable. He's big on footwork, big on the little things, carrying out your fakes and being diligent, so that's been great. We all appreciate that.

"Mike's a great person, a lot of wisdom, and looking forward to continue to work with him."

The Steelers participate in day 7 of the 2021 Organized Team Activities at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex

Sullivan provides another set of eyes to analyze, another voice to instruct and another wealth of experience and expertise from which to glean as Rudolph continues progressing toward eventually realizing his goal.

That's something he believes he's achieved in each of his first three seasons with the Steelers.

"There's so many positives you can take from being under a Hall-of-Fame quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger for three years, learning from that and having a chance to watch him work, watch him interact with people," Rudolph said. "I enjoyed Randy Fichtner, from Day One he was there with me the whole time and I think he really helped me grow.

"Now, having Matt and Mike, Matt's the coordinator and Mike's the guy you can go to with questions. He's a stickler on some stuff but it's making us all better.

"It's been a great three years and I've grown a lot. I've made a lot of mistakes but I've learned from it all. I don't want to make the same mistake twice, Coach Tomlin (head coach Mike) always talks about that."

The rest Rudolph appears content to accept as it comes.