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Steelers OC Randy Fichtner Sees Opportunity with Rudolph and Why He’s Excited about James Washington



Mason Rudolph and James Washington just wrapped up the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie minicamp this past weekend and both showed promise during the short exhibition.

First-year offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner sat down with to talk about his four offensive draft picks during the minicamp, and he spent most of his time focusing on the former OSU duo.

He was asked about Rudolph’s introduction to playing under center and if they eased him into the transition or just threw it all at the rookie QB at once.

“Well, we gotta throw it at him and, not in a negative or positive way. The things that we do from under center, he has to be able to do, and has to be able to grow into,” said Fichtner. “Just because he might not have had those repetitions in college doesn’t necessarily mean that he can’t do it at this level. It’s just different and it may take a slight adjustment time and it does for everybody.”

If highlights are any indicator (of course they are!), Rudolph looked sharp throwing the ball, albeit in shorts and without NFL defensive linemen gunning for him.



Fichtner has been with Pittsburgh since 2007 and has served as quarterbacks coach since 2010, a title which he retains as he makes the move to OC. And he thinks that will benefit both he and Rudolph as they step into their respective new roles.

“I see it as an opportunity to coach him and (in) coaching him, the quarterback position, through the offense, they may feel it more,” said Fichtner. “Maybe the general offense may feel it more and maybe there [are] more unison communication lines between the groups and between everyone involved.”

Fichtner was asked what makes him excited about adding James Washington to an already star-heavy receiving corps.

“I think he’s a natural type receiver,” said Fichtner. “He catches the ball extremely well. He’s combative at the catch points. He has a knack for separation. He’s shown the ability to go past people in college and I think a lot of that does translate at the next level because you do it.

“He’s scored a lot of touchdowns in a smaller amount of starts comparative to a lot of folks and, to me, it starts with who can put it in the end zone, who’s shown that they’ve done it.”

At at some point it’s about getting to pay dirt and for some guys that just comes naturally. As Fichtner alluded to, some of the testing and measurables that we often get hung up on — like Washington’s 40-yard dash time which didn’t exactly wow people — don’t exactly forecast success at the next level, one way or another.

“Guy scores touchdowns in college, he’s probably going to score touchdowns in this level. It’s our job to put him in positions to do that.”



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