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How much of Rudolph’s implosion against the Bengals last Sunday was the product of a week in which he had to defend himself ardently despite being the victim of a blow to the head from Browns star Myles Garrett is impossible to say. It’s obvious it was not inconsequential. It might be feasible to move on from that if the Steelers were playing any one of 30 NFL teams.With the Browns on the opposite sideline, it is impossible.”We’re singularly focused on winning this game and putting ourselves in position to win this game. So that’s where the decision lies,” Tomlin said. “We’ll see where we are after this game. Really, we have no intended plans beyond this one.”MORE STEELERS-BROWNS:Complete list of fines and suspensions from brawlHodges arrived in training camp last summer as an undrafted free agent who won the Walter Payton Award last autumn as the best player at the NCAA’s FCS level, the all-time passing leader in that division. He appeared promising in exhibition games but, with the Steelers’ backup situation solid with Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, Hodges was released before the start of the season. He was brought back to the team’s practice squad after Dobbs was dealt to Jacksonville for a draft pick, a trade they almost certainly were more comfortable executing because they knew they could retrieve Hodges.He then relieved nicely when Rudolph was struck in the chin (and knocked out cold) by the helmet of Baltimore safety Earl Thomas in Week 5, putting the team in position to win twice. The Steelers held a fourth-quarter lead erased on a Justin Tucker field goal, then had the ball near midfield after a first-down completion to Smith-Schuster that he soon after lost on a fumble. That was maybe a little too succinct, so multimedia journalist Tim Benz of the Tribune-Review asked if Hodges had a “higher ceiling” than not killing the Steelers that Hodges could reach as a QB. “There’s going to be enough pressure on Devlin just performing,” Tomlin answered. “So I’m not going to add to it by talking about expectations. I expect him to not kill us.”If that doesn’t get your Terrible Towel whirling, what would?WEEK 13 NFL PICKS:Against the spread | Straight-up predictionsTomlin is making the move the team’s impatient fan base was hoping to see after Rudolph’s confidence gradually dwindled over the past month. It is the wrong move because Hodges’ ability is more limited and because he’d shown a nice aptitude for entering as a reliever when necessary, but there is reason to believe at least part of his qualification for this particular assignment is he wasn’t conked on the head by a Browns lineman 13 days ago and then accused (without evidence, without credibility) of uttering a racial slur on the field.Tomlin went on to say he was looking for a “spark” from Hodges as the starter against the Browns after watching Rudolph struggle, even while acknowledging “things don’t happen in a vacuum,” meaning those problems likely were exacerbated by the recent absences of such weapons as wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson and running back James Conner.”It might not necessarily mean anything negative in terms of Mason’s overall trajectory for his career — or even what he’s going to mean to us next week,” Tomlin said. “We’re focused on putting ourselves in position to win this game, and we’ll worry about next week next week.”Tomlin wouldn’t want us to interpret this to mean if the Steelers were playing Sunday against, say, the Arizona Cardinals that Rudolph again would be in the lineup. We shall, regardless. Tomlin never has been the type of coach to look for a “spark.” He is looking for competent, confident QB play. If you’re a Steelers fan hoping to be inspired by the installation of Devlin “Duck” Hodges as the team’s starting quarterback for its essential Sunday afternoon home game against the Browns, it probably is best not to look to coach Mike Tomlin for reinforcement.Asked what he has seen from Hodges’ three appearances to date to suggest it is the appropriate time for him to replace Mason Rudolph in the lineup, Tomlin was succinct: “He has not killed us.” When the team visited the Chargers the following week, Hodges threw only one interception and delivered a 24-17 victory. He then led them from a 7-3 deficit Sunday to a 16-10 victory over the Bengals. In all of that, he still has only 318 passing yards and two touchdowns. He has attempted only 40 passes.”I think that we’re all capable of helping Devlin,” Tomlin said. “The defense by getting off the field. Our run game by being effective and keeping them in manageable situational down-and-distances. Our special teams doing a great job of the field-position and possession game. We will all have a hand in assisting Devlin in playing good football.”And the Steelers will have a hand, as well, in helping Rudolph to a better circumstance when (or if) he does return. By sitting him and diminishing whatever circus might be planned for the week. (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/0/17/devlin-hodges-112619-getty-ftrjpg_sz6nvxwnus4y10scup0isyjuo.jpg?t=-1458850346&w=500&quality=80