NFL Week 11
When: Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Who: Pittsburgh at Los Angeles Chargers
Line: Steelers 6-point underdogs
Radio: WRKY-FM 104.9 The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph is practicing as if he’s going to start on Sunday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Los Angeles Chargers. Of course, the longtime backup quarterback has no idea if all that preparation will lead to him being under center on the first play. That’s just the nature of things during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While Rudolph ran with the starters on Thursday, Ben Roethlisberger continued to participate virtually while the team held out hope their 39-year-old star will be removed from the COVID-19 list in time to head west. “I’ve talked to (Roethlisberger) every day,” Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada said. “Talked about the plan, talked about what we’re thinking. He’s also met with (quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan) every day and gone through the specifics of those things.”
“I thought there were some throws I missed,” Rudolph said. “But I was proud of the way we battled back and put ourselves in a position there to win the game a couple times in their territory.” The start came at an interesting juncture in Rudolph’s career. The team signed him to a one-year extension that carries through 2022, meaning he could be in the mix to take over full time if Roethlisberger decides to retire at the end of this season. Coach Mike Tomlin has repeatedly backed Rudolph, who is a respectable 5-4-1 as a starter, with most of those starts coming while he filled in for an injured Roethlisberger in 2019.
While he passed for 242 yards and a touchdown and ran for another 36, he also threw an interception and missed badly on a handful of what looked like relatively routine plays, including short-hopping what would have been a 9-yard touchdown to Ray-Ray McCloud. Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19 last Saturday and went onto the COVID-19 list less than 24 hours before Pittsburgh’s game against Detroit. Rudolph started instead, playing unevenly during an ugly 16-16 tie against the winless Lions that halted the Steelers’ four-game winning streak.