Josh Dobbs to start at QB in Steelers’ preseason opener
The competition for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ No. 2 quarterback job will take center stage Friday night at Heinz Field.
During a Wednesday news conference at Saint Vincent, coach Mike Tomlin cleared up the division of labor at quarterback for the preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As expected, it does not include 37-year-old starter Ben Roethlisberger.
“(Josh) Dobbs will start the game, Mason Rudolph will play and then we will go from there,” Tomlin said.
“We’re continuing to harden up some of our rotations in terms of who plays with who.”
Dobbs, a former fourth-round pick, is in his third NFL season. Last year at this time, he beat out veteran Landry Jones and Rudolph — then a rookie third-round pick — to be the top backup to Roethlisberger. But holding onto the gig might be more difficult this season because Rudolph is more comfortable in the offense and more acclimated to the NFL level.
“It’s a constant competition with yourself every day,” Dobbs said. “I never want to make the same mistake twice. Every time you step on the field you want to improve in some aspect, whether it’s identifying defensive coverage, a certain fundamental in the pocket (or) getting in and out of good plays.”
— Tribune-ReviewSports (@TribSports) August 1, 2019
Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner termed the race between Dobbs and Rudolph “tight.” He said the coaches have been careful to be fair to each by splitting reps as well as they can and with each getting equal chances with starters on offense and against the first-team defense.
“We have not tried to evaluate day to day, and we’re going to collectively see how this thing plays out,” Fichtner said. “I don’t think you can do that until you get into the preseason games. It’s still practice. I like what I see out of them. We’ve had our ebb and flow. One has been better than the other, and it’s gone back and forth. They feel it, and we see it. We’ve kept an open mind that it’s a whole process of four preseason games, and they’re all going to get a chance to be in there with different groups.”
After opening eyes at camp, rookie Devlin Hodges is expected to get some action at quarterback against the Bucs, Tomlin said. The flow of the game will determine how much each of the three passers plays.
“I expect them to execute the system. I expect them to be flawless in the communication. I expect that we protect the ball,” Fichtner said. “If we do that, it will be a nice night.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .