PITTSBURGH – Looks like “Duck Season” will last just a week for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coach Mike Tomlin said Wednesday that Mason Rudolph will return to the starting lineup after being cleared by an independent neurological consultant following a concussion he sustained against Baltimore on Oct. 6.
Rookie Devlin “Duck” Hodges filled in nicely for Rudolph during a 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers last week, but Tomlin didn’t hesitate when asked if Rudolph will play given the OK to return.
“(Rudolph) is our quarterback when he clears the protocol and it’s as simple as that,” Tomlin said. “Appreciate the efforts of ‘Duck’ and so forth, but as soon as (Rudolph) is ready to go, he’s ready to go.”
Rudolph left in the third quarter of an overtime loss to Baltimore on Oct. 6 when he was knocked unconscious after taking a shot to the head by Ravens safety Earl Thomas. He recovered in time to practice in a limited capacity next week but was inactive for the Steelers in Los Angeles. Pittsburgh is off this week and doesn’t play again until hosting Miami on Monday, Oct. 28.
Tomlin said Rudolph is “progressing nicely,” adding there was no “extreme urgency” to get Rudolph fully out of the protocol because of the bye week. The Steelers cancelled practice on Wednesday to give players a jump start on their off time.
The team announced late Wednesday afternoon that Rudolph had been cleared by the neurological consultant, the final step in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
“He’s been fully cleared to participate in the things that we have been doing, he would have been a full participant had we chosen to work out today,” Tomlin said.
While the Steelers will be without defensive end Stephon Tuitt for the rest of the season after he tore a pectoral muscle against the Chargers, Pittsburgh figures to be relatively healthy when it returns to action. Wide receiver James Washington (shoulder), defensive back Steven Nelson (groin), fullback Rosie Nix (knee) and linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring) could be available to play against Miami. Running back Jaylen Samuels, who had knee surgery last week, is likely out until the middle of November.
Running back James Conner (quad), defensive back Joe Haden (groin) and linebacker T.J. Watt (abdomen) all sustained injuries against Los Angeles but are expected to be ready to face the Dolphins.
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