Ben Roethlisberger injury: Mason Rudolph says he'll be 'ready to roll' if Big Ben can't go vs. 49ers
Rudolph threw two touchdown passes after replacing an injured Roethlisberger Sunday vs. the Seahawks
Ben Roethlisberger left Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks with during the first half the Pittsburgh Steelers' eventual 28-26 loss. While Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not offer an update on Pittsburgh's franchise quarterback after the game, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Big Ben is scheduled to have an MRI on his elbow.
Mason Rudolph, who went 12-of-19 for 112 yards with two scores and an interception in relief of Roethlisberger, said that he will be ready to roll if Big Ben isn't able to play in the Steelers game in San Francisco next Sunday.
"We have no idea moving forward [about Roethlisberger's status], but I'm completely confident," Rudolph said after the game, via the team's official website. "I've always been confident in myself being the leader of the team and winning games. That's kinda what it all comes down to. If that's the case, I'll be ready to roll."
Rudolph, who had never played in an NFL regular season game prior to Sunday, threw a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes to tight end Vance McDonald. Rudolph led the Steelers on three scoring drives in the second half.
Rudolph said that the extra reps he has received as Pittsburgh's No. 2 quarterback paid dividends when he was thrust into the lineup.
"You gotta be prepared for those situations whenever your number is called," said Rudolph, who beat out Josh Dobbs for the job as Pittsburgh's backup quarterback during the preseason. "I thought I was ready. I had a really good feel for the age plan and what we had worked on all week. It was good to get that Wednesday practice in; I kinda look forward to getting when you're in the backup spot. I had a lot of reps this week, and I didn't feel like I was unprepared, by any means."
Roethlisberger, who made his NFL debut after replacing an injured Tommy Maddox during Week 2 of the 2004 season, assisted Rudolph throughout the second half.
"We were talking on the sidelines in between drives," Rudolph said of his in-game communication with Big Ben. "What he saw, what I saw, just comparing notes."
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who will address Big Ben's status during his weekly Tuesday press conference, told reporters following Sunday's game that the Steelers didn't have to make any changes to Pittsburgh's game plan once Rudolph entered the game.
"Mason's capable," Tomlin said of his second-year quarterback. "He's been a part of this thing. He's the backup quarterback. We're capable of functioning at a normal manner when he's in there, which we did."
While he definitely has things to improve upon, Rudolph showed that he has the ability to successfully run Pittsburgh's offense in a regular season game. That being said, Rudolph's teammates on both sides of the ball will also have to step up if the Steelers are going to get themselves out of their current hole. Pittsburgh is 0-2 for the first time since 2013.
When it comes to Rudolph, he said that he won't change anything with regard to his usual preparation heading into this week. He also said that he doesn't need to do any convincing when it comes to having his teammates believing in his ability to help lead them to victory.
"I think I've earned the respect of those guys, every day that I've been here," he said. "That kinda gets developed in practice more than just getting thrown in. They know the player I am. I wasn't trying to do anything fancy or special, just trying to be who I am and communicate cleanly."
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