There’s good news and bad news in Pittsburgh for a pair of former Oklahoma State standouts as the NFL season gets underway this week.
The good news: former OSU running back Jaylen Warren, who went undrafted, has not only earned a spot on the 53-man roster — but secured the backup job to Najee Harris. Warren was listed on Tuesday as second on the depth chart ahead of former fourth-round draft pick Benny Snell. The news comes just days after beating out former fourth-round pick Anthony McFarland for a spot on the 53-man. Only Harris, a first-round pick a year ago, is higher than Warren on the depth chart.
The bad news in Pittsburgh is that Mason Rudolph seems to be on the decline. He was somewhat surprisingly listed as the QB2 spot on the depth chart recently behind likely starter Mitch Trubisky, but that changed Tuesday with Kenny Pickett, the team’s first-round pick who had a strong preseason, supplanting him as the primary backup. Rudolph is now listed as QB3.
Rudolph’s name has surfaced as a potential trade piece for Pittsburgh with Trubisky taking over as QB1 and Pickett showing himself well as a highly touted draft pick. He made the 53-man roster but could be on the outs as they turn over a new leaf at the position. That could open up the opportunity to win a backup job elsewhere if the team trades him.
As for Warren, earning the No. 2 job in Pittsburgh — and this early — highlights just how good an impression he has made since his arrival. Despite going undrafted, he has been one of the headliners all preseason for the Steelers, with coach Mike Tomlin persistently praising him for his hard running style and ability to be versatile.
“I shocked myself to be able to compete with these guys,” Warren said after making the 53-man roster. “Obviously, there are great athletes all around. Being able to compete with them, I felt like it made me better in a sense, all aspects of the game.”