Ex-Steelers QB Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges Poised to Make First CFL Start

Devlin Duck Hodges

Justin Berl/Getty Images Devlin Hodges runs onto the field during introductions before a game against the Cleveland Browns on December 1, 2019.

On Saturday November 5, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges will be making the first start of his CFL career, leading the last-place Ottawa Redblacks (2-10) against the visiting Toronto Argonauts (7-4). It’s a start that is more than six weeks in the making, following a quarantine period, a month of practice, and a relief appearance in which Hodges completed 8 of 16 passes for 49 yards in a 32-3 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

But seeing as Hodges signed a three-year contract in mid-September 2021, Redblacks fans and coaches are anxious to get a better look at what might be the future of the quarterback position in Ottawa.

“He’s been here a month, he’s had enough reps in practice, and he’s got some tools that are impressive so we want to give him an opportunity to see if we can generate more offensively,” Redblacks coach Paul LaPolice recently told The Canadian Press.

Ottawa hasn’t scored more than 16 points in any of its last five games, all losses. In fact, the Redblacks have only defeated one team this year, sweeping the season series from the Edmonton Elks, who are 2-8 and in last place in the league’s Western Division.

The five-game losing streak helps explain why Redblacks fans have been chanting “Duck,” and also “attempting their best duck calls in the stands,” as The Canadian Press put it.

“I definitely notice it, especially when it’s people who don’t really know how to blow the duck calls. It sounds terrible and I’ll give them a look (like) man that sounds awful,” Hodges said.

“But it’s fun and it’s always cool to bring some kind of excitement and some kind of joy to people in the stadium…. I’ve got some hunting buddies coming up and they’re going to bring duck calls and what not. It’s going to be fun and it will probably make me feel a little more comfortable and play better.”

The Argos Defense Features 2 Former Steelers

Notably, Hodges will be attempting to complete passes against a Toronto secondary that includes a pair of former Steelers draft picks. The older of the two is Crezdon Butler, 34, who was selected by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Clemson. He appeared in four games during the one season he played in Pittsburgh, but he lasted six more years in the NFL, playing a total of 46 games, most of which came with the San Diego Chargers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions.

The Argos defense also features Shaquille Richardson, 29, who was selected by the Steelers in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Arizona and spent part of his rookie year on Pittsburgh’s practice squad. He got a look-see from five other NFL teams between 2015-18, but never appeared in a regular-season game.

Toronto also employs another former Steelers draft pick, that being linebacker Travis Feeney, who is on the Argonauts’ 10-man practice squad. Feeney was drafted by Pittsburgh in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft (No. 220 overall) out of Washington. Like Richardson, Feeney spent much of his rookie year on the Steelers practice squad before moving on to New Orleans, where he spent part of 2017.

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Devlin Hodges Still Keeps Up With His Ex-Teammates

Meanwhile, Devlin Hodges still follows the exploits of many of his former Steelers teammates, including running back James Conner, who has been a touchdown machine for the first-place Arizona Cardinals (7-1).

He’s also decided to pay tribute to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger by wearing No. 7 for the Redblacks, as opposed to No. 6, which he wore in Pittsburgh.

All told, the Samford University product played in eight games and posted a 3-3 record as a Steelers starter in 2019. He completed 100 of 160 passes for 1,063 yards, with five touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

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