A week after expressing skepticism about the Pittsburgh Steelers’ decision to draft a quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger texted third-round rookie Mason Rudolph to offer support before the team’s rookie camp.
“He reached out and said, ‘Hey, good luck in rookie minicamp.’” Rudolph told reporters after Friday’s practice, the first of three this weekend for rookies and first-year eligible players. “I was really appreciative of that. I just said, ‘Hey, thanks, look forward to meeting you.’ Wasn’t a whole lot [of conversation], but it meant a lot that he reached out.”
On KDKA-AM radio last week, Roethlisberger said he was “surprised” the team drafted a quarterback, adding that the move passed up an opportunity to get “football players that can help this team win now.”
“Nothing against Mason, I think he’s a great football player,” Roethlisberger continued. .”..I just don’t know how backing up or being the third guy — who knows where he’s going to be on the depth chart — helps us win now.”
Roethlisberger went on to say he “feels bad” for incumbent backups Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs. He mostly dismissed the idea of mentoring Rudolph, saying with a laugh, “I don’t think I’ll need to, now that he said he doesn’t need me. If he asks me a question, I might just have to point to the playbook.”
Rudolph told reporters after he was drafted that it will be his own job to learn rather than relying on Roethlisberger.
On Friday, the Oklahoma State product shook off any suggestion that the two could have a frosty relationship after Roethlisberger’s radio comments.
“I think the media got it kind of twisted around a little bit,” Rudolph said. “He’s a competitor. 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.”
Rudolph, 22, had an up-and-down first day that included a few dropped snaps from under center, a bit of a foreign experience for a signal-caller who played almost exclusively from the shotgun in college.
Former college teammate and second-round pick James Washington called Rudolph a “perfectionist” and “a strong minded guy,” telling reporters that any doubts or criticism of him will “probably only make him hungrier.”
—Field Level Media