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Mason Rudolph to Start vs. Baker Mayfield, Browns in Week 17

Rudy vs. Baker. Whoo boy.



Photo: Steelers/Twitter

Mason Rudolph will start for the Pittsburgh Steelers in place of Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday, pitting the former Oklahoma State star against his former college rival, Baker Mayfield, as they take on the Browns in Cleveland.

The Steelers made the decision to get Big Ben rest in Week 17 after clinching the AFC North over the weekend with a win over the Colts, elevating Rudolph to QB1 duties.

It will be Rudolph’s ninth start of his NFL career after being drafted by the team in 2018, and his first start this season. He’s served as the backup to Roethlisberger all season after Roethlisberger returned from an elbow injury that cut short his 2019 campaign.

Though Rudolph has very little NFL experience, he does have some history with the Browns. Just last season facing the team, there was an infamous late-game scuffle centered around him and Browns star, Myles Garrett, that ended with Garrett using Rudolph’s helmet as a weapon against him:

That incident of course led to endless memes on the internet of Rudolph, who took his own helmet to the head in rather violent fashion. Garrett was suspended for his role in the incident.

Something else to watch this weekend could be the return of the Rudolph-to-Washington connection. With nothing substantive to play for, starting receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson could also earn some rest or have a limited role to avoid injury ahead of the playoffs. James Washington could, by extension, receive first-team reps at receiver against the Browns.

Cleveland, meanwhile, finds itself in a vastly different position. While Pittsburgh can afford to rest its starters, the Browns need a win to make the playoffs, which would be their first postseason berth in 18 years.

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