Mike Tomlin confirms Mason Rudolph will start when cleared

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The Steelers got a win with their third quarterback. That will not set the stage for a quarterback controversy.

Though it may not have really needed to be said, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday that Mason Rudolph would return to the starting lineup as soon as he clears the concussion protocol.

“That guy is our quarterback when he clears the protocol,” Tomlin said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “It’s as simple as that. Appreciate the efforts of Duck [Hodges], but as soon as he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”

The Steelers have this week off for their bye. Rudolph participated in practice last week on a limited basis, and Tomlin said he’d have been a full participant today if they had practiced.

“Technically he’s still in the concussion protocol,” Tomlin said of Rudolph. “There’s no extreme urgency in terms of getting him out of the protocol because we don’t work again until Monday. He’s been fully cleared to participate in the things we’ve been doing.”

While Hodges, an undrafted rookie from Samford, led them to a win over the Chargers, Tomlin made it clear the bar was kept low.

“He didn’t kill us,” Tomlin said of Hodges. “And that’s what you need from young quarterbacks. In general, he took care of the ball. He made plays he needed to make.

“But we were thoughtful about the positions we were put him in. We converted three or four possession downs via the run. Many others we dumped off in the flat and allowed James Conner to win them after the catch. We did the things we needed to do to secure victory in that instance.”

That’s generally how it goes with third-string quarterbacks, but Tomlin felt the need to spell it out.