Steelers Inside the Ropes: Devlin ‘Duck Dynasty’ Hodges making plays | TribLIVE.com
Steelers/NFL

Steelers Inside the Ropes: Devlin ‘Duck Dynasty’ Hodges making plays

Chris Adamski
1505394_web1_gtr-steelers15-080719
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden has coverage on receiver James Washington during practice Aug. 6, 2019 at Saint Vincent College.

“Let’s go, ‘Duck Dynasty,’ ” coach Mike Tomlin yelled toward his offense on the sidelines before the final drill of Tuesday’s Pittsburgh Steelers practice.

So Devlin Hodges ran into the huddle and took over the hurry-up, late-game simulation between second-teamers.

Earlier in practice and for the second time in recent days, Hodges guided the No. 2s on offense in the seven shots 2-point conversion simulation that opened practice. The No. 4 quarterbacks over the years at Steelers camps don’t always get such opportunities, particularly during a practice in which Ben Roethlisberger and the two others at quarterback are healthy and participating.

That might best exhibit how Hodges is opening eyes. The NCAA’s reigning Division I passing yards per game leader from Samford has shown an accurate arm and a pizzazz in his playmaking ability.

The final play of Tuesday’s practice, for instance, was a sidearm fling to Diontae Spencer in the middle of the field, a deft improvisation for a 6-foot-1 passer who was under siege from a fleet of large pass-rushers.

Hodges completed three other passes during the hurry-up drill, and he connected on two of his three throws in seven shots, both quick hits to Ryan Switzer and Tevin Jones at the goal line. His only incompletion in that drill came when Cameron Sutton batted down a throw intended for Switzer in the slot.

A player who attempted 50 passes per game last season, Hodges figures to get a look during the first, second and fourth preseason games. Though the odds are long he will do enough to unseat a healthy Mason Rudolph or Josh Dobbs — taller, drafted players with bigger arms who went to major-conference colleges — Hodges is standing out more than most “fourth arms” at training camps over the years.

• The first-team defense did not prevent a Roethlisberger-led offense from scoring in seven shots, though the fourth and final snap it ran is ambiguous because Devin Bush appeared to jump offsides. Roethlisberger threw the ball up for grabs, and it was intercepted easily by Kameron Kelly (there are no penalty-induced replays of downs in seven shots). Roethlisberger’s scoring passes went to Eli Rogers, Xavier Grimble and Switzer. All were quick-strike throws at the goal line. Grimble beat Bush for his score.

• The punting competition took center stage in the special teams portions of practice, with incumbent Jordan Berry and rookie Ian Berryman alternating situational kicks from areas such as when the line of scrimmage was near midfield or from their own end zone. Generally speaking, the pair matched each other punt for punt.

The only noticeably bad boot was from Berry, off the side of his foot while standing in his own end zone. It went less than 30 yards.

• As typically has been the case, the returners in the punt drills were Switzer, Rogers and Spencer. (Diontae Johnson has taken part when healthy). The only obvious error by this group was when Spencer trapped a punt he didn’t handle cleanly.

• It perhaps was merely a function of an injury-depleted secondary needing a body, but it was interesting to see and hear senior defensive assistant/secondary coach Teryl Austin explicitly call for Mike Hilton to take a rep at outside cornerback during an 11-on-11 drill. Hilton is a slot defensive back by trade, although he has practiced some at free safety this camp.

• It was minor and ended quickly, but there was a scuffle at practice. Rookie defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs took a swing at first-year offensive lineman Patrick Morris.

• Twice in a span of three 11-on-11 snaps, Spencer beat Brian Allen on post routes 30-40 yards downfield. But neither was connected for a completion. Dobbs overthrew Spencer once. On the other, Spencer was underthrown enough that Allen just was able to break it up.

— Chris Adamski

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris 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.