Maybe the quarterback battle in Pittsburgh won’t be so awkward after all.
Ben Roethlisberger was very publicly not pleased with the Steelers taking Mason Rudolph in the 2018 draft, saying he didn’t understand how it helped the team win now. That may be due to the pick prompting whispers of Roethlisberger’s retirement in the near future and Rudolph as his replacement, but the veteran quarterback definitely made more waves than he needed to talking about the pick.
On his first day of Steelers rookie mincamp, Rudolph was a little more genial.
Mason Rudolph has only kind words for Ben Roethlisberger
While talking to reporters after minicamp, Rudolph was naturally asked about his relationship with Roethlisberger. His answer, per USA Today, was nothing but reverential for the Steelers great.
“I think the media got it kind of twisted around a little bit,” Rudolph said. “He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback. He’s a competitive guy. That’s what I would expect. He’s a longtime starter.
“I’m sure when we get in this building, in this room, we’re going to be friends, and I’m going to let him do his thing and pick up what I can from him but not bother him.”
Roethlisberger’s olive branch after criticizing of Rudolph pick
While Roethlisberger wasn’t exactly welcoming to Rudolph in the days after the draft, he’s at least seemed to warm up to the third-rounder. Per USA Today, Rudolph said Roethlisberger texted him to say “good luck in rookie minicamp.”
Roethlisberger also isn’t the only longtime AFC North starter facing questions about his relationship with a possible rookie replacement. While the Steelers QB has at least now reached out to Rudolph, Joe Flacco reportedly still hasn’t even spoken to Ravens first-round pick Lamar Jackson, who is widely expected to be the starter in Baltimore soon.
Does Roethlisberger have reason to be scared of Rudolph?
Perhaps. Seeing Rudolph get taken in the third round of the 2018 draft must have been an unfamiliar feeling for Roethlisberger. Since Roethlisberger was selected in the first round in 2004, the highest pick the Steelers have used on a quarterback was the 115th overall pick (fourth round) in 2013 on Landry Jones, who has been Big Ben’s backup since.
Rudolph might represent the first quarterback to ever present an actual threat to Roethlisberger’s starting spot in Pittsburgh. He was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in college football during his career and was the first quarterback taken after a near-record five were selected in the first round. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger is 36 years old and has hinted at possibly retiring in the past.
Roethlisberger has since walked back the retirement talk, but at some point, the Steelers are going to have to move on and Rudolph may very well be that guy.
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