Labriola On

Steelers to stick with Hodges

Last week, Coach Mike Tomlin’s weekly news conference at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex was something of a curiosity because of the quarterback situation. Would Tomlin start rookie Devlin Hodges based on the second half of the team’s victory in Cincinnati, or would he go with second-year pro but almost equally inexperienced Mason Rudolph, the Steelers’ third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Tomlin didn’t wait long into the start of that news conference to address the starting quarterback issue, and announced the decision was to go with Hodges. Today, the whole presentation came across as matter-of-fact. Tomlin opened with a brief summary of the game against the Browns, touched on a couple of things related to injuries, and then turned his attention to the upcoming opponent.

“Now we transition to Arizona,” began Tomlin, “getting familiar with those guys and the challenges they present. First is just the venue. Going on the road is something we respect, particularly working with a young QB. Duck will be our quarterback again this week. He has performed well in hostile environments, but he just don’t have a big sample size. I liked what I saw in L.A., I liked what I saw in the second half in Cincinnati, but he will be moving into, roughly, his seventh quarter of road work. We respect it. We have to prepare that way.”

In Los Angeles against the Chargers, Hodges completed 15-of-20 (75 percent), with one touchdown, one interception, and a rating of 87.9 while executing a plan that called for him to throw the ball downfield only once. In Cincinnati, Hodges replaced Rudolph for the Steelers’ second possession of the second half, and he completed 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) for 118 yards, with the one touchdown being a 79-yard catch-and-run by James Washington, no interceptions, and a rating of 115.

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