The Steelers got good news late last week when Mason Rudolph was officially cleared from the concussion protocol, and on Monday the second-year quarterback confirmed that he was feeling just fine.
“I feel great,” said Rudolph. “Checked all of the boxes with the protocol situation.”
Rudolph said the effects of the concussion, which stemmed from a hit by Ravens linebacker Earl Thomas in Week 5, weren’t lingering, and he felt ‘fine’ by the next morning.
“I had a minor headache that night, but the next morning I started to really come back,” said Rudolph. “I slept really great, never had any symptoms like sensitivity with light. Started feeling pretty good the next day, and carried out all of the testing, physically, and then the mental stuff on the computer.”
The toughest part for Rudolph was having patience as he went through the testing. In his mind he felt like he could have played against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6, but knows the right decision was made.
“I’m a competitor. I like to feel like I know my body, but the thought process from specialists was if you take a lesser hit, you could be out for longer,” said Rudolph. “Just more vulnerable was the opinion of the specialists, so I really didn’t have a choice. I wanted to. I think I’ll look back on this 10 years down the road and I’ll be glad that I did sit out for a week, but I was not happy.
“It was frustrating to have to sit out when I felt pretty close to normal, pretty fine. It was the best thing for my long-term health. We’ve got a lot of specialists here, so I complied with their thoughts.”
He has watched a replay of the hit, saw the defenders coming, but doesn’t remember the hit itself.
“I felt like I was going to get hit right after, but I didn’t think it would be any different from any other hit that I take in the pocket,” said Rudolph. “Just a freak thing, but I did kind of see both of those guys, feel them closing in. I didn’t remember the play at all. I had to kind of go back and ask the coach what the play call was because for some reason just that play was kind of blank. Everything before and after was clear as day.
“I watched it. It was a freak thing the way he hit my jaw. My jaw was never really sore, the way my head kind of torqued quickly. The specialist said it kind of shut off my brain, not my spinal cord, but my stem. Some high-ranking term that’s above my pay grade. Shut me off quick. It was the sweet spot. Shut me out black, and probably have been hit like that many times and that’s never happened, so kind of a weird deal.”
Rudolph, who said he did hear from Thomas and has reached back out, said he was happy that he never had any setbacks since he took the hit, including both on and off the field.
“I took steps forward early in the week,” said Rudolph. “My scores kept getting higher on the ImPACT protocol concussion testing on the internet or software. I started to do some cardio and some more heavy lifting and running, and then I practiced. I never took a step back.”
Rudolph is expected to start against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football and said he won’t be out there worried about what happens the next time he gets hit.
“You can’t play looking over your shoulder,” said Rudolph. "I’m not going to think twice about it. I’m going to go play the game that I’ve always played with aggressiveness, and if I need to extend the play, that’s what’s going to happen. I’m not going to think twice about worrying about getting hit in the right spot. That’s just the luck of the draw. It happens. A freak thing and I’m going to move on from it.”