Two Former Vol QBs Set to Start Preseason Finales

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    (Photo via AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

    According to their respective head coaches, two former Tennessee quarterbacks will be starting in the final week of the NFL preseason. And one could be playing for his spot on the roster.

    Chicago Bears quarterback Tyler Bray and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Josh Dobbs are both set to start their respective teams’ final games in the preseason. Chicago head coach Matt Nagy announced earlier this week that Bray would not only start the Bears’ preseason finale against the Bills, but he would play the entire game at quarterback. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has now also announced that Josh Dobbs will be starting the Steelers’ final preseason game when they take on Carolina.

    Dobbs could very well be playing for his spot on the roster when he takes the field as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback on Thursday.

    Pittsburgh drafted Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph in this year’s NFL Draft, putting Dobbs’ spot on the roster in doubt just a year after the Steelers drafted him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Dobbs is viewed as the fourth-string quarterback behind starter Ben Roethlisberger and backups Landry Jones and the aforementioned Rudolph.

    So far this preseason, though, Dobbs has given the Steelers plenty of reason to keep him around.

    Despite Dobbs only appearing in two of Pittsburgh’s three preseason games up to this point and Rudolph appearing in all three, Dobbs has somewhat out-played the rookie quarterback. Rudolph has completed 19 of his 35 pass attempts for 213 yards, one touchdown, and one interception while fumbling the ball three times (none have been recovered by the defense).

    Dobbs, on the other hand, has completed 21 of his 31 pass attempts for 283 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions while running for 46 yards on seven carries.

    According to Ian Rapoport, Dobbs may have a home on an NFL roster this year even if it’s not in Pittsburgh.

    Rapoport reported Wednesday morning that Dobbs is one of the backup quarterbacks being discussed by other teams in the league who need better alternatives on the bench. He didn’t specify which teams might be interested in Dobbs, but it’s clear the Steelers have suitors if they decide not to carry four quarterbacks on the roster this season.

    Last year, Dobbs started against Carolina to end the preseason as well, and he orchestrated a game-winning drive that saw him score the game-winning touchdown on the ground with two seconds remaining.

    Bray’s spot on the roster is more secure than Dobbs’, but neither is really expected to play a role on their teams’ offense this year.

    Right now, Bray is the third-string quarterback on the Bears’ roster. He’s seated behind starter Mitchell Trubisky and backup Chase Daniel. If Bray can cap off what’s already been a decent preseason with his performance on Thursday, he could challenge Daniel for that second-string spot.

    In three preseason games this season, Bray has completed 41 of his 68 pass attempts for 472 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Daniel has looked impressive this preseason, completing 42 of his 58 passes for 469 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception while also running for 50 yards on 12 carries.

    Neither Bray nor Dobbs have completed a pass in the NFL so far. Dobbs didn’t attempt a pass in his lone season in the league last year, and Bray has only ever attempted one pass in five seasons in the NFL.

    Both Dobbs and Bray had successful careers at Tennessee on an individual level. Bray completed 58.6 percent of his 922 pass attempts with the Vols for 7,444 yards, 69 touchdowns, and 28 interceptions and is in the top five in several passing categories in UT history. Dobbs completed 61.5 percent of his 999 pass attempts at UT for 7,138 yards, 53 touchdowns, and 29 interceptions while running for 2,160 yards and 32 scores on 438 carries. He holds the school record for most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Dobbs also caught two touchdowns, bringing his career touchdown mark to 87 while at Tennessee.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.