Steelers News: Devlin Hodges to Start for Injured Mason Rudolph

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 22:  Devlin Hodges #6 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass against the New York Jets during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The quarterback carousel in Pittsburgh is turning toward Devlin Hodges yet again.

ESPN's Adam Schefter was first to report on Monday that Mason Rudolph was expected to miss the Week 17 contest against the Baltimore Ravens with the left shoulder injury he suffered on Sunday, opening the door for Hodges to make the start. Paxton Lynch would serve as his backup.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network later reported Rudolph would miss multiple weeks and was not expected to play if Pittsburgh secures a playoff spot.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

#Steelers QB Mason Rudolph, who went on IR today, sustained a sternoclavicular (SC) joint dislocation on his left shoulder after two #Jets hit him simultaneously. He had a successful procedure to reset it, was released from the hospital and can start throwing again in 6-8 weeks.

"Duck" Hodges actually started Sunday's 16-10 loss against the New York Jets but was pulled after throwing two first-half interceptions. He returned in the fourth quarter after Rudolph was injured, though he was unable to lead the Steelers to a comeback victory. 

Mark Kaboly @MarkKaboly

Duck Hodges with 5 interceptions in his last 26 pass attempts before getting pulled for Mason Rudolph.

"You take care of the ball or we have decisions to make," head coach Mike Tomlin said, per Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports.com. "Devlin didn't take care of the ball early, so we made a decision."

While Hodges struggled immensely (11-of-17 for 84 yards and two interceptions), Rudolph provided the team with a spark, finishing 14-of-20 for 129 yards and a score. 

Both Rudolph and Hodges have had issues protecting the ball in relief of Ben Roethlisberger, who is out for the year after undergoing surgery on his right elbow. Rudolph has thrown for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season, completing 62.2 percent of his passes, while Hodges has gone for 968 yards, five scores, eight picks and a 67.4 completion percentage. 

"I don't think I'm a bad player, but I've been playing bad," Hodges said Sunday, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

And yet the Steelers looked like a safe bet to reach the postseason. Despite starting the year 1-4, the team won seven of its next eight games and found itself at 8-5. But with two straight losses, the Steelers no longer control their own destiny for the final seed in the AFC playoffs. 

They will need a Tennessee Titans loss or tie to have any chance:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

The race for the 6 seed in the AFC comes down the final weekend. Only the Titans control their own destiny. Both the Steelers and Raiders need help to get in. https://t.co/tTHxT6heB3

"It's frustrating," linebacker Bud Dupree told Lolley. "It's a situation where we are hoping and wishing again like last season. We shouldn't be in this situation. We had opportunities from early in the season to today to go out and win games. Even with the adversity we have been through all year, we had control of our own destiny and we failed."

And with the season on the line, it appears Duck will again get the call.