Steelers players 'impressed' with QB Rudolph in debut

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It wasn't an ideal situation for quarterback Mason Rudolph to see his first regular-season action, but the second-year pro impressed teammates in the Pittsburgh Steelers28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

"Mason did a really, really, really good job today," tight end Vance McDonald said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"I was really, really, really impressed," guard David DeCastro added "He did well (Sunday)."

That's a lot of 'reallys' after a loss, but the way the former third-round pick performed after settling in during the third quarter suggests the Steelers won't be completely lost at sea if Ben Roethlisberger is out for weeks.

"Mason is capable," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's been a part of this thing. He's the backup quarterback. We're capable of functioning in a very normal manner when he's in there."

Rudolph took over for Big Ben in the second half after the starter repeatedly grabbed his elbow at the end of the second stanza. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Roethlisberger is set for an MRI today. Per Rapoport, there is some real concern regarding the QB's status moving forward.

Rudolph took over in the third quarter. His first three passes fell incomplete, but he got little help from his receivers, including Donte Moncrief, who had a perfect sideline pass slip through his hands for an interception. After that Rudolph showed poise in the pocket, an ability to get to his second read, solid pocket movement and a great rapport with tight end Vance McDonald.

In his first pro action, Rudolph finished 12-of-19 passing for 112 yards, 5.9 yards per attempt, two touchdown tosses, and the one interception for a 92.4 QB rating.

"He handled himself really well," DeCastro said. "Really proud of him, how he came in ready to go. He knew the playbook, had a big command, and he mixed some of the cadences, too. That was impressive."

The best news for the Steelers while preparing to be without Big Ben next week potentially is that the stage didn't appear too big for Rudolph, despite some struggle moments, which were expected given the lack of practice reps with the starters.

"You have to be prepared for those situations whenever your number is called," Rudolph said. "I thought I was ready. I had a really good feel for our gameplan and what we worked on all week. ... I didn't feel like I was unprepared in any means."

The bigger issue for Tomlin is that his supposedly reworked defense couldn't stop Russell Wilson a lick in the second half. If the Steelers' D remains a sieve, QB play will be moot moving forward.

UPDATE: Roethlisberger will undergo surgery on his elbow and be placed on season-ending injured reserve, the team announced Monday.

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