Devlin Hodges

Extra Points: Rivera, Hodges, Giants, Green

The Panthers suffered an absolutely brutal loss Sunday, losing at home to the Redskins as massive favorites. Carolina is effectively eliminated from the playoff hunt, and Ron Rivera’s seat is starting to heat up. The ugly loss was “likely more than enough to prompt new owner David Tepper to make big changes in January,” writes Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Rivera was rumored to be close to getting fired after last year, but his staff was given one more season to prove themselves. Tepper only bought the team before last season, so he doesn’t have any particularly deep ties to the coach who guided them to a Super Bowl a handful of years ago.

It might not help or matter much, but the circumstances have been far from ideal for Rivera in 2019. Cam Newton was never healthy and barely played, and he’s had second-year UDFA Kyle Allen under center for most of the year. The Panthers went on a hot streak after Allen was inserted, but have since completely collapsed. For his part, Rivera insisted after the game he wasn’t worrying about his job status per Bill Voth of the team’s official site (Twitter link), although there’s not really much else he can say at this point. Assuming he gets fired it’ll be interesting to see what kind of interest he gets on the market, considering he’s had real success in the past. Notably, offensive coordinator and former NFL head coach Norv Turner would surely become available as well if Rivera is let go.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Steelers benched Mason Rudolph and are rolling with Devlin Hodges at quarterback, and they picked up a crucial win over the Browns on Sunday. Mike Tomlin’s decision to go with Hodges was “was well received throughout the organization,” La Canfora writes in a separate piece. JLC also adds that some people in the building were surprised Tomlin didn’t initially stick with Hodges after he won a game over the Chargers while Rudolph was sidelined with a concussion. He notes that the staff loves Hodges’ scrambling ability, and that he’s been compared to Gardner Minshew by some in the organization. Pittsburgh is apparently pretty high on Hodges and barring injury, it doesn’t sound like we’ll see Rudolph again any time soon.
  • Speaking of embattled coaching staffs, the Giants’ is up against it right now. Rumors of a potential Pat Shurmur firing continue to percolate, and the Giants got routed by the Packers on Sunday as pictures of a mostly empty stadium went viral online. The staff has yet another problem on their hands now, as cornerback Janoris Jenkins publicly blasted the way he’s being used after the game.”You’ve got to use your weapons. I’m the only one in the league that doesn’t travel (w/the opponents top WR). I don’t understand why,” Jenkins said via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter links). “It’s common sense. I’m on the left side of the field all game. I get two passes thrown my way. All the top corners in the league travel. Rabbit doesn’t travel anymore.” Jenkins is apparently clashing with defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Jackrabbit has one year left on his five-year, $62.5 MM deal after this one. He could be cut following this season for only around a $3.5MM penalty, but he’s still by far the best player in their secondary.
  • Some slight positive news to pass along in the continuing A.J. Green watch, as the Bengals receiver said “everything’s trending up” with his troublesome ankle, per Ben Baby of ESPN.com. The talented wideout still didn’t give any concrete timetable for a return, saying “when my ankle feels good enough to play, then I’ll play.” Green returned to practice a few weeks ago and appeared to be returning imminently, but then suffered a setback. Even without their top offensive option, Cincy managed to pick up their first win of the season Sunday.

 

Steelers Bench QB Mason Rudolph

It’s now official, per an announcement from head coach Mike Tomlin. The Steelers will start quarterback Devlin Hodges this week against the Browns, sending Mason Rudolph to the bench. 

[RELATED – Browns’ Garrett On Racial Slur: I Know What I Heard]

Rudolph completed just 8 of 16 passes for 65 yards and a red zone interception before being yanked against the Bengals. After Hodges entered in the third quarter, he finished out 5-of-11 for 118 yards and a touchdown in a comeback win.

Tomlin was non-committal when asked about a potential shakeup after Sunday’s game, but this was the expected move. Hodges is not a world-beater, nor does he profile as the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger, but he might be the team’s better option as they push for the playoffs.

At 6-5, the Steelers have a 27% chance of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight. In the next three weeks, they’ll see the Browns, Cardinals, and Bills.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers To Name Devlin Hodges Starter?

The 6-5 Steelers found themselves in a tight battle with the 0-11 Bengals on Sunday, and a quarterback switch helped them fend off their winless rivals. Pittsburgh HC Mike Tomlin benched Mason Rudolph in favor of Devlin Hodges in the third quarter, and Hodges finished 5-of-11 for 118 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win.

Rudolph, meanwhile, was just 8 of 16 for 65 yards and a red zone interception before being removed. In addition to his role in the victory over Cincinnati, Hodges also won his only start of the season — on the road against the Chargers in Week 6, when Rudolph was sidelined with a concussion — and he nearly led the team to another victory against the Ravens the week before, taking over when Rudolph was knocked out by a helmet-to-helmet hit.

Hodges, a UDFA rookie from Samford, is hardly considered the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger, while there was some hope that Rudolph might be. But Rudolph has not done much to suggest that he is the long-term answer, and Hodges might be the better option right now for a Steelers club with a strong defense that still has a chance at the postseason.

To that end, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link) believes the Steelers are heading for a QB change. Tomlin was non-committal when asked about a potential shakeup after Sunday’s game, and Rapoport says the veteran HC could keep rolling with Rudolph, but the fact that Tomlin was comfortable enough to make an in-game change suggests that he was at least considering the move ahead of time. Rudolph’s struggles, combined with Hodges’ relative — albeit modest — success could force Tomlin’s hand.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Stafford, Trubisky, Garrett, Steelers

The Lions have discussed shutting down Matthew Stafford for the season because of his back injury, but that is not what the quarterback wants, and he still is hoping to play again this year, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. According to Schefter, not only does Stafford want to play, but he is, in the words of one source, “maniacal” about it.

Stafford, 31, missed his third straight game this afternoon against the Washington Redskins, which ended in a 19-16 loss. Jeff Driskel once again filled in for Stafford, throwing for an ugly 207 yards, with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions, with Driskel throwing one of those interceptions at a crucial moment in the 4th quarter with one minute left to play. Before today’s loss, Driskel had started two games, throwing for 478 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

With the fractures in Stafford’s back, surgery is not considered an option, says Schefter. The injuries are potentially chronic, and Stafford knows that the pain, which he has dealt with dating back to last season, could be an issue for him for years to come. But Stafford still wants to return to play this season, despite knowing the risks involved.

It’s unlikely he will be able to return in time for the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Bears, with Driskel set to make that start.

Here are some more notes from the North:

  • Despite his lackluster play and injury concerns, the Bears are “still firmly behind” Mitchell Trubisky, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Rapoport goes on to say that the organization feels the entire offense needs to play better, not just Trubisky. Trubisky suffered a hip injury in last week’s loss to the Rams, but made the start in this afternoon’s 19-14 win over the Giants. In the win, the former second overall pick threw for 278 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, while also rushing for a score.
  • Although Myles Garrett‘s suspension was upheld and he will miss the rest of this season, the NFL is hopeful and optimistic that the Pro Bowl pass rusher will not miss any games next season, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Schefter goes on to say that the NFL has mandated that Garrett must meet with the commissioner’s office during the offseason, and the NFL is doing that because it wants to see how he reacts to the lengthy suspension after the brawl that he was a part of earlier this month against the Steelers. Since losing the appeal, Garrett stands to lose about $1.2MM in salary for missing the six remaining games this season.
  • After the Steelers benched quarterback Mason Rudolph for Devlin Hodges in their 16-10 win over the Bengals this afternoon, Mike Tomlin said he felt like the offense just needed a spark, and that “Mason wasn’t doing enough.”, relays NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. Tomlin would go on to say they’ll “see what next week holds”, with regard to his starting quarterback for next week’s matchup against the Browns. Hodges, a rookie out of Samford University, who signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent this past spring and was promoted off of the practice squad after Ben Roethlisberger’s injury, finished the game 5-of-11 for 118 yards and a touchdown in the comeback win. Before being benched, Rudolph was struggling, completing just 8 of 16 pass attempts for 65 yards and an interception.

 

Steelers Place Ben Roethlisberger On IR, Promote QB Devlin Hodges

Mike Tomlin confirmed Ben Roethlisberger will miss the rest of this season due to the elbow injury he sustained Sunday, and the Steelers moved quickly to adjust their quarterback depth chart. The team placed Roethlisberger on IR and promoted Devlin Hodges from its practice squad.

Recently re-signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad, Hodges was with the team in the preseason. He completed 20 of 38 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Hodges won the Walter Payton Award, given to Division I-FCS’ top player, in 2016 while at Samford.

This will mark a major change for the Steelers, who in 2018 had Josh Dobbs installed as Roethlisberger’s backup. Dobbs is now in Jacksonville, and Hodges will back up Mason Rudolph. The Steelers just extended Big Ben this offseason. He is under contract through the 2021 season.

Pittsburgh plans to look for another quarterback, with the likely hope the to-be-determined acquisition will be stationed between Rudolph and Hodges on the depth chart, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets.

The Steelers took Rudolph in the 2018 third round. Big Ben was critical of the pick, as it used an asset on a developmental quarterback rather than a position player who could help immediately. Unless the Steelers bring in a veteran backup, they will find out plenty about Rudolph this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger Done For Year

The Steelers’ worst fears have been confirmed. On Monday morning, head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Ben Roethlisberger‘s season is over. 

The quarterback was hoping to avoid surgery after suffering an elbow injury over the weekend, but doctors came back with bad news after looking at his scans. With that, Mason Rudolph now becomes the Steelers’ starting QB.

The Steelers traded Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars last week, leaving Rudolph as their only other signal caller on the roster. The club is now expected to promote Devlin Hodges from the practice squad to serve as Rudolph’s backup, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

Before this, Roethlisberger hadn’t missed a game due to injury since Week 7 of the 2016 season. Obviously, this wasn’t a good time for his luck to run out – the Steelers are 0-2 after being blown out by the Patriots in the season opener and Sunday’s tough loss to the Seahawks.

Roethlisberger might not have the support of former teammate Antonio Brown, but he was sharp in 2018 with career-highs in completions (452), pass attempts (675), passing yards (5,129), and touchdowns (34). He also started in all 16 games, something he hadn’t done since the 2014 campaign. Though, in the interest of equal time, we should mention that he also led the NFL with 16 interceptions.

Advanced metrics lauded Roethlisberger’s work as well, as he finished fourth in Total QBR and eighth in adjusted net yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger ranked fifth in Football Outsiders‘ DYAR, which measures value over a replacement level player, and eighth in DVOA, meaning he was effective on a per-play basis.

Thanks to the three-year extension he inked in the offseason, Roethlisberger is under contract through the 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 9/10/19

Today’s practice squad moves will be posted here:

Baltimore Ravens

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Redskins

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/9/19

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers Cut Eli Rogers; Reach 53

The Steelers got down to the 53-man max by releasing wide receiver Eli Rogers and a host of other players. Among other notables released 2019 draft picks Sutton Smith (linebacker, sixth round) and Derwin Grey (offensive lineman, seventh round), as well as Marcus Allen, a fifth-round defensive back from the 2018 class.

Rogers came out of nowhere and had a breakout season in 2016, catching 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns in just 13 games. It was a promising debut, but he took a pretty big step backwards the next season when he had just 149 yards and 18 catches. Then in the playoffs, he suffered a torn ACL. The ACL took a long time to recover from, and Rogers didn’t end up making it back until Week 15 of last year.

The rest of the rundown is below.

Offensive players released:

Defensive players released:

Special teams cuts:

More Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/19

Here’s the latest round of minor moves from around the NFL (for this morning’s minor moves, click here):

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers: DB Mike Tyson (from Texans)

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

New Orleans Saints

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins