HomeFootball DirtMason Rudolph to Start for Steelers in Week 16

Mason Rudolph to Start for Steelers in Week 16

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As foreshadowed over the weekend, the Steelers will be making a switch under center. Head coach Mike Tomlin announced on Monday that Mason Rudolph will get the start in Week 16 against the Bengals.

In his post-game remarks after a loss to the Colts on Saturday, Tomlin declined to confirm if Mitch Trubisky would retain the starting role. Tomlin hinted that changes on offense would be coming after Pittsburgh lost a third straight game to drop to 7-7. Now, that has been confirmed.

Rudolph will receive first-team reps in practice this week, although Tomlin did say (via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor) that starter Kenny Pickett has a chance to return to the field in time for the Cincinnati game. With Rudolph already having been named the starter, though, Pickett’s return would only be in a backup capacity as he recovers from ankle surgery.

Trubisky took over for Pickett during the Steelers’ upset loss to the Cardinals. He then started against the Patriots and Colts, games in which the team’s offensive struggles continued. In need of a late-season spark to stay alive in the wild-card race, Pittsburgh will now turn to Rudolph, who made his 2023 debut in the closing moments of Saturday’s game. The 28-year-old did not see the field last year, and the most recent of his 10 career starts came in 2021.

Rudolph was expected to find himself on a new team this offseason by means of a free agent departure. Signing with a new team could have created a clearer path to playing time, but in May he ultimately decided to re-up with the Steelers once again. That one-year pact worth the veteran minimum will now give the former third-rounder another opportunity to earn a role in Pittsburgh or a new team in the offseason.

Unlike Rudolph, Trubisky is on the books through 2025. The former No. 2 pick joined the Steelers on a two-year deal last spring, and he inked an extension this past offseason to continue serving as Pickett’s backup. Trubisky has not fared well during his time on the field this season, however, and today’s move marks a blow to the confidence the team has in him given the importance of their three-game stretch to close out the season.

Tomlin also announced safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will miss the Steelers’ contest against the Bengals. The All-Pro is dealing with a knee injury which forced him to leave the Colts loss. While Fitzpatrick’s’ absence will be felt on defense, plenty of attention will be on Rudolph and the offense as the Steelers look to end their losing streak and keep their playoff chances alive.

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