Not only was Devlin “Duck” Hodges not drafted, but he also wasn’t considered a so-called “priority” free agent. What a difference a few months can make.
Hodges explained to PFT after Sunday’s 20-13 win over the Browns — Hodges’ first win in Pittsburgh of his career — that after the draft there was no clamoring for his services. Instead, he received an invitation to try out the Giants’ rookie minicamp, followed by an invitation to try out at the Steelers’ rookie minicamp. And he used the Giants’ audition as a warmup for the Steelers’ audition, and the next thing you know here he is, serving as the starting quarterback after starter Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending injury and primary backup Mason Rudolph fizzled out.
Hodges didn’t fizzle out on Sunday, even though the offense sputtered early. Hodges said that things clicked in the second quarter. Down 10-0 with roughly seven minutes until halftime and the ball at their own 18, the Steelers got a free play courtesy of Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson jumping offside. So Hodges fired the ball down the left sideline to receiver James Washington for a 31-yard again — and Hodges said that’s what woke things up.
Pittsburgh would finish the drive with a field goal. And the Steelers would tie things up with a touchdown before intermission, before pulling away in the second half.
And the guy who delivered the win was an undrafted player from Samford, a guy who has helped the Steelers to three of the seven wins they’ve hammered out since starting the year 0-3. A guy who currently is poised to start a playoff game in his first season.
Hodges said that his parents, coaches, and even Roethlisberger gave him the same advice before this one: “Just be you, just be Duck.”
That’s more than good enough for the Steelers, who currently hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff field and who have four games left to nail it down. Along the way, Duck will return to prime time, when the Steelers host the Bills in 13 days, thanks to the league’s decision to flex the key Week 15 matchup into primetime.