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Brooke PryorESPN Staff WriterClose
- Previously covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star and Oklahoma University for the Oklahoman.
PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph had a hunch what coach Mike Tomlin was going to tell him Tuesday.
A few days earlier, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was benched early in the third quarter for rookie third-stringer Devlin “Duck” Hodges after Rudolph was ineffective and threw a red zone interception against the Bengals.
Tuesday morning, Tomlin told Rudolph that Hodges would be starting Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
“You handle it with a good attitude, with a team-first attitude,” Rudolph said. “I can only control how I react and how hard I prepare, knowing that I’m one play away. I’m going to support the guy, knowing that this is a crazy game and you’ve got to be ready when your number is called. I will be ready, for sure.”
Tomlin told Rudolph that the decision to start Hodges wasn’t a referendum on his future with the team or even his role for the rest of the season.
“He said this isn’t his final decision, and any player wants a chance to play every week,” Rudolph said. “That’s the way I’m going to look at it and continue to work and grow and learn from mistakes and continue to play well and practice hard.”
Rudolph said the controversy that has followed him since he was involved in a fight with Browns defensive end Myles Garrett during the Steelers’ loss to Cleveland in Week 11 didn’t affect his preparation or his focus in Cincinnati. But Rudolph admitted that Garrett’s accusation that the quarterback used a racial slur has been difficult for his family.
“I think that specific allegation, it affects my family,” Rudolph said. “It’s tough for them to see something so false be circulated about my family name. That’s tough.
“But Coach Tomlin talked about, when in the spotlight, you expect those types of thing