Devlin Hodges gets start for Steelers; Mason Rudolph officially ruled out
It made headlines 15 years ago when Alan Faneca expressed he was less than enthused to be playing with a rookie quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger.
There was no such reservation coming out of the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room Friday, when it became official Devlin Hodges would start Sunday night’s game at the Los Angeles Chargers.
An undrafted rookie from FCS Samford who was out of a job less than a month ago, Hodges has endeared himself to teammates — and not just because of his nickname.
“We’re excited to get ‘Duck’ in the game,” veteran tight end Vance McDonald said. “He will play well.
“I like (Hodges’) confidence. He just wants to come out and sling it. I just like him as a person. He’s fun to be in the huddle with. … We just tell him to go out and play football, play the way that you know, play the game you love — and we have your back, no matter what happens.”
Hodges took first-team practice reps this week with Mason Rudolph, who was ruled out of Sunday’s game, in concussion protocol. That means six weeks after being part of final roster cuts, five weeks after being signed to the practice squad and four weeks after being added to the roster, Hodges will start an NFL game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster said he had never caught passes from Hodges until last Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens when Hodges came in to relieve Rudolph.
“You could just see during the game where when he came in, we came down and put points on the board (Hodges’ first drive),” Smith-Schuster said. “(So) I’m not nervous at all.”
Hodges joins an offense with three undrafted starters on its line. Ramon Foster became a starter as an undrafted rookie 10 years ago, so he has a special appreciation for Hodges’ story.
“I’m excited. I believe in that new stars can be born every year,” Foster said. “I’m not saying he will go out and just become a superstar, but you just never know. It’s exciting for a young guy like that who’s not timid about the situation.
“I am happy for him because he walks into the locker room and into the huddle like a little kid, but he plays big, so it’s going to be interesting.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .