Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s second season mercifully came to an end on Tuesday when he landed on IR with a shoulder injury, the team announced.
Rudolph suffered the injury on Sunday when he came off the bench to replace Devlin Hodges in the second quarter. He was forced to leave with a minute left in the third after being taken to the ground following a bad snap.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Monday that Rudolph was likely to miss several weeks, and while this is the final week of the regular season, the Steelers still have a shot at the playoffs. With a Titans loss, Pittsburgh can qualify for the playoffs with a win or a loss, a Colts win, and a Raiders loss. However, this would slam the door shut on a potential return.
By clearing a roster space, the Steelers will elevate practice squad center J.C. Hassenauer to the active roster. The former Alabama standout could see action because starting center Maurkice Pouncey was also injured on Sunday and may miss time.
How was Rudolph’s first season of consistent action?
While Rudolph looked competent recently — 14-of-20 passing for 129 yards and a touchdown against the Jets — the season was far from steady for the second-year passer.
The Steelers had high hopes for Rudolph as Ben Roethlisberger’s heir apparent when they selected him in the third round of the 2018 draft, although they surely didn’t expect him to see the field this soon. Big Ben’s Week 2 shoulder injury forced Rudolph to play and left the Steelers with an awkward quarterback question going forward.
Rudolph has a 5-3 record in his 10 games, but he only has 1,765 yards on a 62.2 percent completion rate with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Critically, his 6.2 yards per attempt rank 31st in the league, while his 82 quarterback rating is marginally better at 29th.
Only 24, Rudolph can be forgiven for a tough first year. The Steelers traded Antonio Brown in the offseason, while JuJu Smith-Schuster has been injured or ineffective for much of the year. But Rudolph may no longer be the most valuable young quarterback in town, and this injury is the latest setback.
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