'Staying to the script'

The evolution of Devlin "Duck" Hodges does not yet include calling many plays or audibles.

"We've had some gameplan checks and audibles that we've had in the gameplan, and I've executed those," Hodges said after practice today. "Most of the time, whatever play is called is usually the one I'm running."

Even in two-minute situations, the play often comes in from the sideline.

"It just depends," Hodges continued. "I might call one or two. We have a two-minute system. I would say (offensive coordinator) Randy (Fichtner) has called most of them and he's called some good ones and we've had some good players make plays and the line up front blocking.

"It's just something that we practice all training camp. I think we end the practice, if not every day then every other day with a two-minute drill. We've always been prepared and it's nice to go out there and execute."

Hodges has done that in back-to-back starts, no matter who has been calling the shots.

He drove the offense 56 yards in eight plays in 1:51 for a 37-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter that gave the Steelers a 13-10 halftime lead last Sunday in Arizona.

And on Dec. 1 against Cleveland, Hodges put together a five-play, 69-yard drive in 48 seconds that ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver James Washington that tied the game at 10-10 with one minute left in the second quarter.

Head coach Mike Tomlin has noticed, due in part to Hodges' ability to handle such situations, a "general growth and development in Devlin at the quarterback position as he's able to gain some more traction and get some more exposure.

"He's doing a good job of staying to the script, if you will, but he's also doing a good job of being thoughtfully aggressive at the appropriate times, too," Tomlin said this week. "I thought you saw that in the two-minute drill (in Arizona) when we responded to their touchdown drive and were able to put together a field goal drive before the half. I thought you saw it on the possession downs on our last possession of the game when we were working to maintain possession of the ball, and he did what was necessary, from a quarterback standpoint, in those moments.

"And I think those are the moments that define a young passer, those situational moments, those plays that are weighted a little bit differently when you got a line to gain, when time is a factor. He's done a nice job of continuing to be the guy that we know, even in the midst of those circumstances. I think that bodes well for him and for us."

Hodges maintains he'd be comfortable and capable calling plays or audibles in two-minute situations, but he isn't campaigning for that responsibility to be heaped onto his plate.

He's content to get his reps, in games and practices, and to do what's asked.

And to control where the ball is going and when by working his reads and progressions after a snap.

That's responsibility enough as he readies for his fourth NFL start on Sunday against Buffalo.

"I'm throwing it so, yeah, I think so," he said.

The Steelers prepare for the Week 15 matchup against the Buffalo Bills

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