A day to remember for Duck: As fans watched the beginning of the Steelers game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2 of the 2019 season, there was a buzz going through the stands, and it wasn’t a good one. After seeing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the field in the first half, he was a spectator in the second half, standing on the sidelines while Mason Rudolph took over.
Everyone wanted to know what was happening, why he wasn’t playing. And soon they found out he was injured on the final series of the first half, done for the day, and eventually done for the season with an elbow injury.
As news started to spread, Devlin Hodges’ phone started to blow up. And he couldn’t believe the texts he was getting.
Roethlisberger was injured.
Had the news gotten out a few minutes sooner, Hodges likely would have been right there at Heinz Field hearing the buzz in the crowd. But as fate would have it, he actually left Heinz Field at halftime and missed it all.
“That day was crazy,” said Hodges. “I went to the game and being a practice squad guy, we are sitting up in the stands. So, I was watching the game from there. I was sitting with practice squad guys. Sitting with the fans. I was watching and observing more. People didn’t recognize any of us.”
And while watching the game was important, there was something else going on. Being new to the team and Pittsburgh, signed to the practice squad just a few days before, he was also in the process of moving in. And the furniture he was waiting for was ready.
“When the first half of the game ended, I left because I had to go pick up furniture,” said Hodges. “I get out of the stadium and one of my friends texted me and said Ben is hurt. I am looking on Twitter and I see Ben is out and Mason is playing, and I am like, oh man, I just left.
“I went and got my stuff moved in and the next day they said we are going to sign you. They asked if I was familiar with everything. Things took off like crazy. I didn’t know if I was going to play as much as I did last year, but it was a blessing.”
If you feel like you need a rewind after reading that, it’s okay.
Yes, Hodges was watching his first game with the team from the stands. Yes, he left before he even knew Roethlisberger was hurt. And yes, it’s rare that he has admitted this.
“It was my first time at Heinz Field for a real game,” said Hodges. “It was a great atmosphere. At the same time, I was thinking it sucks. I can be down there. And the next week I was. It’s crazy how things work.”
From watching the games in the stands, to be introduced as the starting quarterback at Heinz Field. It definitely went from one extreme to another for Hodges last year.
“I don’t know if there is a cooler moment in sports for me than being introduced at Heinz Field,” said Hodges. “That is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“I feel like I have grown as a player a lot. The first time I was thrown in there and did well. Even though I didn’t play my best the last couple of games I grew, and I got better. Even though it might not have looked like it, that is what happened. I grew as a player understanding the concepts, understanding the defense, things that come with playing the game and especially the quarterback position.”
While he grew, there are things he wants to work on during training camp, even going into his postseason meeting last January with Coach Mike Tomlin with a list.
“I want to work on some under center stuff, footwork, some pocket movement,” said Hodges, who is battling for a backup spot with a healthy Roethlisberger back. “When it comes down to it, I want to work on everything and get better. I know I have the talent; it’s how can we maximize the talent. I want to watch a lot of film, not really on me but maybe on Ben and how he does stuff, how he plays the game.”