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24-08-2018 05:29 AM
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— Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph exudes confidence heading into his first NFL preseason game Thursday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Rudolph admitted that jitters may be there as the Steelers prepare to face the defending Super Bowl champions in Philadelphia. But the Steelers’ third-round pick has settled into a comfort zone two weeks into training camp.

“It’s just football Authentic Chris Herndon Jersey ,” Rudolph said. “I think everyone has a little bit of nerves because it’s going to be the first one back. But just like your debut in college, you get out there, you make a completion and it starts flowing like football has always been.”

Rudolph is in a fight for the backup quarterback spot behind Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Rudolph will see time under center against the Eagles, along with veteran Landry Jones and Josh Dobbs, the Steelers’ fourth-round pick a year ago.

Tomlin is eager to see how Rudolph can direct the offense and maintain possession.

“Mason’s done a really good job, but he hasn’t been hit,” Tomlin said. “Ball security is much more difficult in-stadium because a training camp environment is controlled in a lot of ways. You don’t touch or get close to the quarterback, so a quarterback’s ability to secure the football doesn’t get tested until they play in-stadium preseason football.”

Rudolph will have an opportunity to show how far he’s come since the Steelers traded up to select the Oklahoma State star with the 76th overall pick, the highest the organization has taken a quarterback since Roethlisberger was the 11th overall selection in 2004.

During spring practices, Rudolph impressed, but he also missed a couple center-quarterback exchanges after working almost exclusively out of the shotgun both in high school and at Oklahoma State.

“We cleaned it up for the most part,” Rudolph said. “I’m just starting to feel a lot more comfortable under center after not doing it the last eight years of my life.”

Rudolph also had an inauspicious start at training camp when he ran a bootleg to the right and fumbled his first pass attempt backward. That gaffe is far from Rudolph’s mind.

“I could (not) care less about the first pass,” Rudolph said. “I have a lot of first passes. I had my first pass in OTAs and rookie minicamp. I’m thinking about the next pass. If one play goes bad, the next play can be the one that wins it, or gets you back in the game.”

Rudolph has found his groove after a rocky first week at camp. The rookie looked comfortable and crisp while running the two-minute offense at the end of a practice last week. Rudolph finished the drill an efficient 5 of 6 for 52 yards Authentic Jordan Whitehead Jersey , which included a practice-ending 14-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Jaylen Samuels.

“I just want to progress,” Rudolph said. “You obviously dream about playing in the NFL, but once you get here, you take it one day at a time. I think that’s the way I’ve approached practice and it has gone well.

“I’m just focused on completing passes and making sure I’m taking mental steps forward every day.”

The next step forward for Rudolph will be into a NFL stadium for his preseason debut — against an opposing defense.

“You’re playing your own team every single day and you get frustrated because they start to learn your calls, they’re cheating on your install sheet, printing your stuff out and trying to game plan against you,” Rudolph said. “And then you get out there in a game and it’s easy because those guys are scared, they’re all tight, they want to be in their spots, they don’t want to get yelled at by their coach, and you end up scoring points and driving down the field. That’s the way I feel this will go.”

NOTES: Tomlin said Roethlisberger won’t play Thursday against Philadelphia. . Wide receiver Antonio Brown missed practice again Tuesday, but he worked out alone on an adjoining field. He will miss Thursday’s game along with LBs Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt, and TE Vance McDonald.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman earned accolades for making the boldest moves in improving Tampa Bay’s Stanley Cup aspirations at the NHL’s trade deadline in February.

Evander Kane, however, might have been the biggest beneficiary after being dealt by eventual last-place Buffalo to San Jose on Feb. 26. Kane couldn’t contain his glee on his Twitter account a week ago in posting a message which read : ”(hashtag)playoffmode it’s about time!”

It took him nine years and four cities – from Atlanta to Winnipeg Rashaan Evans Color Rush Jersey , Buffalo and now San Jose – since being selected with the No. 4 pick by the then-Thrashers in the 2009 draft to finally prepare for his playoff debut. It will happen Thursday, when the Sharks open their Pacific Division first-round series at Anaheim.

”It makes it easy to come to the rink. It makes it easy to play with this group of guys,” Kane said. ”I’m having a lot of fun right now.”

The Sharks, who gave up a prospect and two conditional draft picks, including a potential first-rounder, might not be in this position without Kane. The 26-year-old picked up the offensive slack on a team that closed the season minus star Joe Thornton. Kane scored nine goals, including two game-winners, and added five assists in 17 games.

In closing the season at 12-7-1, the Sharks’ 25 points ranked in a tie for 10th among NHL teams since the trade deadline.

”He’s a crucial part of our team,” center Chris Tierney said of Kane. ”Just gives us an extra layer of everything.”

Kane wasn’t the only late-season addition to provide his new team a boost.

Yzerman added offense, defense and leadership to an already elite team by acquiring New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller in one of the final trades completed. Miller led all players traded on Feb. 26 by scoring 10 goals and piling up 18 points in 19 games.

”When you add two players like that and give up what they did, it’s you know: They’re in it to win it,” former player and NBC hockey analyst Eddie Olczyk said of the Lightning.

Fellow analyst, Pierre McGuire looked to the moves made by Nashville.

The Predators gave up a first-round draft pick in adding size and versatility to acquire forward Ryan Hartman from Chicago. They welcomed back veteran Mike Fisher, who signed out of retirement. They also signed forward Eeli Tolvanen Cheap Tarvarius Moore Jersey , after the rookie first-round pick’s Kontinental Hockey League season ended last month.

”You look at everything Nashville has done, they never messed with the roster integrity that was created at the beginning of the year by David Poile and Paul Fenton,” McGuire said, referring to Predators management. ”So I think Nashville quietly, whether it’s at the deadline or just before, did some amazing things.”

The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Predators (15-4-2), Winnipeg (15-4-1), Columbus (14-4-2) and Boston (13-5-4) led the NHL in points since Feb. 26.

Columbus jumped from 19th in the overall standings to 14th in a run that coincided with the additions of forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Ian Cole.

Paul Stastny scored four goals and 13 points with playoff-bound Winnipeg, after being traded by St. Louis for a first-round pick. The Blues, by comparison, closed 10-7-2 and missed the playoffs with a season-ending loss to Colorado. And don’t forget Patrick Maroon, who had three goals and 10 points in 17 games for New Jersey, which acquired him from Edmonton.

The Capitals filled secondary defensive needs by adding Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek just before the trade deadline.

”We had holes to fill this year and we filled them with guys that aren’t as high-profile, but are just steady, and provided the things we needed for our team Cowboys Mike White Jersey ,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said.

After appearing in just 31 games in Chicago, Kempny played 22 in Washington while securing a role alongside Norris Trophy-candidate John Carlson.

In Philadelphia, goalie Petr Mrazek held the fort in going 6-6-4 in place of injured starter Brian Elliott. Elliott returned in time to win the final two games including a 17-save shutout in a season-ending, playoff-clinching 5-0 win over the Rangers.

Not all the trades paid off down the stretch.

Rick Nash missed Boston’s final 12 games with an upper body injury after being acquired in a trade with the Rangers.

Tomas Plekanec managed just two assists in 17 games with Toronto after being acquired from Montreal.

Tomas Tatar had four goals and six points in 20 games with Vegas, which landed him in a deal with Detroit.



AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno, in Washington, and sports writers Josh Dubow, in San Jose, and Teresa M. Walker, in Nashville, contributed to this report.



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