In a week, Devlin Hodges goes from no reps to first-team Steelers quarterback | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

In a week, Devlin Hodges goes from no reps to first-team Steelers quarterback

Joe Rutter
1782989_web1_AP_19279847015061
AP
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges (6) walks along the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Pittsburgh.
1782989_web1_gtr-Steelers04-101019
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges (6) plays against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Pittsburgh.
1782989_web1_gtr-Steelers03-101019
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges plays against the Ravens Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at Heinz Field.
1782989_web1_gtr-Steelers01-101019
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges plays against the Ravens Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at Heinz Field.

Based on his activity — of lack thereof — the previous week, Devlin Hodges was happy to throw a pass of any kind in a full practice setting Wednesday, let alone take all the snaps with the Pittsburgh Steelers first-team offense.

With the Steelers preparing to face the Baltimore Ravens last week, Hodges was mostly a bystander during practice while mobile quarterback Taryn Christion, added to the practice squad for that game, worked with the scout team.

Hodges’ work was confined to some throws in 7-on-7 situations in which he didn’t face a pass rush.

“Honestly, I got no reps with the team, with the ones,” Hodges said. “I didn’t even get any reps on the scout team because we brought in a guy to be Lamar Jackson.”

This week, with Mason Rudolph’s availability uncertain because of a concussion, Hodges opened as the team’s No. 1 quarterback. Rudolph practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, but if he isn’t cleared to play, the undrafted free agent from Division I FCS Samford, who wasn’t on the team’s opening roster, could make his first NFL start Sunday night at the Los Angeles Chargers.

What a week, huh?

“Having a chance to prepare with the ones and being in the huddle, it’s confidence,” Hodges said. “I’m comfortable being in the huddle with a group of guys and potentially being in there Sunday. … It helps a lot. You’re talking about getting throws in that you normally don’t get as the backup or the No. 3 guy. You’re not getting a lot of throws in, so as far as getting the timing down with the receivers and being in the huddle is a confidence booster.”

Cut at the end of preseason, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Hodges was added to the practice squad the day after the Steelers’ season-opening loss at New England when Joshua Dobbs was traded to Jacksonville. A week later, he was promoted to the 53-man roster when Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury.

Against the Ravens, Hodges went from backup quarterback to unlikely contributor after Rudolph suffered a concussion in the third quarter that knocked him from the game. Hodges completed 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards and led the Steelers on a touchdown drive and field goal drive on his four possessions. Both scores gave the Steelers the lead.

“It’s hard to explain, he’s really composed, but he’s really relaxed at the same time,” guard David DeCastro said. “It’s kind of like playing backyard football. He’s got a lot of confidence in his voice, which is great.”

The transition, so far, has been a seamless one for Hodges.

“He doesn’t blink in the face of adversity,” linebacker T.J. Watt said. “He just kind of steps up, shrugs his shoulders, goes out there and does what he does. I don’t think the moment is too big for him.”

As a starting outside linebacker, Watt usually has the perspective of facing Hodges in practice as part of the quarterback’s responsibilities running the scout team. As such, Hodges is tasked with replicating the opposing quarterback at the expense of throwing his favorite passes.

“He’s been delivering really good footballs and making this defense a lot better,” Watt said. “A lot of credit goes to the scout team for helping us throughout the week, and he was the catalyst of that scout team. You can see the carryover when he got into the game. He’s not just here to be a scout-team player.”

Hodges made his mark in rookie tryout camp, which was held two weeks after he went unselected in the NFL Draft. He made enough of an impression for the Steelers to sign him and boot fourth quarterback Brogan Roback off the 90-man offseason roster.

Hodges continued to impress in training camp and got more work than a typical No. 4 quarterback in the preseason. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 190 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

“It was awesome to see. He was the star of camp,” center Maurkice Pouncey said. “All the guys thought he was going to make it here, with the plays he was making in camp and practice. When he got into games, he did really, really well.”

Still, Hodges couldn’t force his way onto the roster and had to wait until Dobbs was traded before getting a callback from the Steelers. Now, he’s a few days away from perhaps playing a starring role on NBC’s “Football Night in America” telecast.

“It’s a crazy process,” Hodges said. “Just from the beginning and coming in with the tryout. Five years from now or 10 years, if I’m still playing in the NFL, this whole story will fit who I am. It just shows that with hard work and confidence and a belief in yourself, you can accomplish your dreams.”

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.