Week 2 of the preseason tends to be when we see some minor promotions, and Kenny Pickett has officially earned one.
Just not that one.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Thursday his quarterback depth chart for Saturday’s preseason game versus the Jaguars will feature Mitch Trubisky at the top, and a new face — Pickett — behind him as QB2.
“All three guys have played well,” Tomlin explained. “I really think the main emphasis and mentality in regards to how we structured it this week is we just simply want to see Kenny in more varsity action.
“We know more about Mason [Rudolph]. Mitch has been around the professional game, obviously, so this is a big week for [Pickett] in terms of maybe getting in in the first half of this game and I would imagine getting an opportunity to see front-line defenders for Jacksonville.”
Pickett entered Pittsburgh’s first preseason game before the midway point of the third quarter and put together a thrilling performance, completing 13 of 15 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns, including a 24-yard connection to Tyler Vaughns that produced the game-winning score. It was an ideal debut for the 20th-overall pick of the 2022 draft, who joined the Steelers from the University of Pittsburgh and is expected to become the long-term successor to Ben Roethlisberger.
Pickett’s performance was a pleasant surprise to the football-viewing public, which had heard more negative reviews of the rookie than positive coming out of Steelers camp leading up to last weekend’s game against Seattle. Instead of looking like an overmatched youngster, Pickett handled the situation with poise.
The order of quarterbacks doesn’t necessarily indicate Pickett has moved ahead of Rudolph in the preseason quarterback competition. Tomlin came away from Pittsburgh’s win over Seattle pleased with what he saw from his quarterback trio, telling reporters “it was a good first time out for all three.”
Pickett has, however, played well enough to see himself climb the ladder by one rung this week.
With the Steelers knowing what they have in fourth-year quarterback Rudolph and the veteran Trubisky, now is the time to throw Pickett into the fire and see what emerges.
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