Mason Rudolph doesn’t have a problem with recent comments made by the man he’s likely going to be backing up in Pittsburgh this fall.
Rudolph, the former Oklahoma State quarterback, was picked in the third round by the Steelers in last month’s draft. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s longtime starter, told a local radio station last week he was surprised the team took a quarterback so high, rather than someone “that can help this team now.”
“If I was Ben, I’d probably say the same thing,” Rudolph said this weekend on the NFL Network. “He’s a competitor. Obviously, he has a lot of confidence in himself, like I do. And, yeah, he’s going to be a future Hall of Famer, and I would expect him to say that.”
Roethlisberger is a six-time Pro Bowler who has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl victories during his 14-year career. In the past, he has sounded unsure about how much longer he’d want to play. But this offseason, Roethlisberger said, he made it clear to the team he thought he had three to five years left in him.
“I wanted them to know so they wouldn’t have to worry about drafting a quarterback,” Roethlisberger said Friday on Pittsburgh radio station 93.7 The Fan.
The Steelers made it to the AFC championship game in 2016 and won 13 games last season, so there’s a win-now attitude among some players and fans. When the Steelers traded up three spots to claim Rudolph at No. 76 overall, the move caught some people off guard. And that includes the team’s current starting QB.
“I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that maybe in the third round, you know, you can get some really good football players that can help this team now,” Roethlisberger said. “Nothing against Mason — I think he’s a great football player. I don’t know him personally, but I’m sure he’s a great kid. I just don’t know how backing up or being a third-[stringer] — who knows where he’s going to fall on the depth chart — helps us win now.
“But, you know, that’s not my decision to make. That’s on the coaches and the GM and owner and those kind of things. If they think he can help our team, so be it, but I was a little surprised.”
As for Rudolph, he doesn’t have any expectations of coming in and taking Roethlisberger’s job. But, Rudolph said, he’s still going to prepare as if the job is already his so he’ll be ready if and when that time comes.
“I’m just looking forward to going in there and learning the system, competing, raising my level of play, preparing like I’m the starter even though obviously I won’t be the starter and just waiting and being prepared for whenever I get my time,” Rudolph said. “Whenever my time comes, to be ready and take advantage of it.”