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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Mike McDaniel

Steelers’ Diontae Johnson Wants Rudolph to Start Over Trubisky

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After Steelers starting quarterback Kenny Pickett left Sunday’s game against the Ravens with his second concussion in two months, Pittsburgh turned to former starter Mitchell Trubisky in relief to try to capture an important divisional contest.

Trubisky completed 22 of 30 pass attempts for 276 yards with one touchdown and three backbreaking interceptions.

With Pickett’s status up in the air for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, wideout Diontae Johnson has thrown his support behind quarterback Mason Rudolph if Pickett can’t go.

“Yeah I want to see him play,” Johnson told reporters on Thursday. “I know he’s ready to play. I know it’s probably in the back of his mind like ‘Dang, when am I going to get my chance?’ I feel like this week is it for him. I know he’s going to do everything it takes to prepare this week and get ready for Sunday.”

Rudolph has been splitting first-team reps with Trubisky this week, and coach Mike Tomlin has yet to name the starter if Pickett is ruled out as anticipated. Rudolph was seen as a candidate to replace Ben Roethlisberger when he retired in the offseason, but the Steelers instead signed Trubisky to a two-year contract and drafted Pickett out of Pittsburgh in the first round of April’s draft.

Despite the odds being stacked against him, Rudolph has been viewed by his teammates as the consummate professional who hasn’t let the situation he’s been a part of impact his preparation week to week.

“You see a guy who just comes in every day that just put his head down and worked,” Johnson continued when answering questions about Rudolph. “Although the circumstances he’s dealing with might be tough, just coming to work and not being able to dress up every week and just seeing everybody play, he’s probably got a lot going through his head. …That’s my guy still.”

The Steelers and Panthers square off on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET in Carolina.

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