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Mason Rudolph talks about being Steelers new starting QB, says relationship with Ben Roethlisberger has ‘definitely grown’

Ben Roethlisberger didn’t love the fact that the Steelers selected a quarterback in the third round of the 2018 draft. Mason Rudolph, the quarterback Pittsburgh selected that year, didn’t love the fact that he was headed to a team that already had a franchise quarterback. 

Despite their rocky start, Roethlisberger and Rudolph developed a rapport that Rudolph said grew stronger during the early stages of the 2019 season. Rudolph, who will now be Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback for the remainder of the season after Roethlisberger was placed on season-ending IR Monday, discussed how his relationship with Big Ben has grown over the past year. 

“Our relationship definitely seems to have grown this year, just like everything,” Ruldolph said from Pittsburgh’s facility on Monday, via the team’s official website. “When I was the starter at Oklahoma State, you’re not gonna be best buddies with the new freshman. You’re just not, he’s younger. But he’s done a great job of opening up to myself and the rest of the guys in the room.

“He’s a legend,” Rudolph continued. “He’s a future Hall of Famer and an unbelievable player. I truly do learn something every week from him, whether that be communication wise or just his creativity in no-huddle. He’s a great player, and like I said, I’m going to continue to learn from him and meet with him as much as I can during the week however available he is.” 

While he wishes that his opportunity could have come under better circumstances, Rudolph said that he is still excited to get his first career start this Sunday in San Francisco against the 2-0 49ers. Rudolph also admitted that it was hard for him to watch fellow 2018 draft mates Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen get immediate opportunities to play as rookies while Rudolph watched every Steelers’ 2018 game in street clothes. 

“There’s been plenty of quarterbacks who haven’t played immediately, and I was encouraged by that,” said Rudolph, who spent his rookie season behind Roethlisberger and Joshua Dobbs, who was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week. “You kinda had people coming aside and telling you that stuff. That’s all fine and dandy in the moment, [but] you’re still kind of, you wanna play, you’re pissed. It’s all short term. I tried to have a longterm mentality and understand that I hope that I play this game a long time, and as long as I’m ready for my opportunity, that’s all that matters.”

Rudolph will get his opportunity now, as the Steelers look to right the ship after an 0-2 start to the season. And while some people may have expected the Steelers “tank for Tua” after losing Big Ben for the season, Pittsburgh believes in Rudolph, and they are surely looking forward to seeing what he can do during the final 14 games of the regular season. 

Pittsburgh, with the news of their reported trade of next year’s first round pick to acquire Miami defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, also sent a message that they believe in not only Rudolph, but in their entire roster. Pittsburgh clearly isn’t overly concerned about the future. They’re instead remaining focused on 2019 and what they can do to salvage this season. 

For Rudolph, he told reporters that he is excited to get a full week of first team reps with Pittsburgh’s starting offense this week. Rudolph also said that he will continue to go over the game plan with Randy Fichtner while implementing more of his “starred plays” into the game plan. 

Beyond that, Rudolph said that will continue to do what he always does: prepare like a starting quarterback and let his preparation speak for itself. 

“You gotta attack every day like it’s your last and pour everything into it and prepare like you are the starter,” said Rudolph, who started both his high school and college career as a backup before eventually becoming a starter. “That’s what I tried to do last year even though I was the No. 3 guy, as tough as that was I still tried to wake up and accomplish goals in practice and get the reps that I could and make the most of it. I’m not in the business of predicting the future, I just know that I prepare myself and will be ready to roll.”