Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph is officially out for Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Chargers, paving the way for third-string quarterback Devlin Hodges to make his first career start.
"This is an opportunist league," Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster said Friday. "Guys, they jump in starting roles because of somebody else's misfortune. Careers are built like that.
"[Hodges] walks into the huddle like a little kid, but he plays big."
Hodges, an undrafted rookie, took over in the third quarter of last Sunday's loss to the Baltimore Ravens after Rudolph suffered a concussion on a hit by Earl Thomas. The veteran safety was fined $21,000 for the hit but plans to appeal.
Despite the head injury, Rudolph practiced throughout the week in a limited capacity. Hodges, however, took the majority of the first-team reps in practice.
Hodges tried out for the Steelers during rookie minicamp this year and earned an invitation to training camp. The Samford product, who won the 2018 Walter Payton Award as the best offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, was cut after the final preseason game, but he rejoined the team as a practice squad addition a few weeks later. He was elevated to the 53-man roster when Ben Roethlisberger went on season-ending injured reserve following elbow surgery.
Hodges completed 7 of 9 passes for 68 yards in the overtime loss to the Ravens.
"You can see that preview in the game where he came in and we came down and put points on the board," wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. "I'm not nervous at all. We're going to L.A. It's going to be a fun game."
The Steelers also elevated practice squad quarterback Paxton Lynch to the active roster along with running back Trey Edmunds. The team released offensive lineman Fred Johnson and linebacker Jayrone Elliott to make room.