“Duck Dynasty” is getting a raise. And, for the time being at least, a more prominent role.
The Pittsburgh Steelers promoted Devlin Hodges to the active roster Monday, about five hours after announcing franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be out for the rest of the season following elbow surgery.
Hodges went undrafted after leading NCAA Division I in passing yards per game last season at Samford. Known as “Duck Dynasty” (or simply, “Duck”) because he won a national duck-calling contest as a youth, Hodges broke the FCS career passing yardage record set by Steve McNair 25 years ago.
“Part of it is knowing the offense,” Hodges said Monday of his role after Roethlisberger’s injury. “I’ve played in a (preseason) game with the offense, playing with some of the guys that are still here. I have some confidence and trust with some of the receivers here because I have played with some of them.”
Hodges was signed after impressing at a tryout at the Steelers rookie minicamp in May. He also had a strong training camp and preseason, but was an odd man out when the initial regular-season roster was set because the Steelers still had Roethlisberger, former fourth-round pick Josh Dobbs and former third-round pick Mason Rudolph.
Undrafted Steelers rookie QB Devlin Hodges draws rave reviews
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) August 8, 2019
But after Rudolph won the No. 2 job, Dobbs was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. Hodges was then signed to the practice squad. With Roethlisberger’s injury, Rudolph takes over as the starter.
The Steelers almost certainly will add another quarterback, if only to have three arms to practice with. But Monday’s move suggests they might not sign a bigger-name free-agent veteran and perhaps instead will add a younger passer to their practice squad.
Players on 53-man rosters make a minimum of $495,000 (prorated by week, at roughly $29,000); most practice-squad players make $8,000 per week.
“A couple hours (before) a week ago,” Hodges said early Monday afternoon, “I was on the couch. To be in this position is wild.”