Steelers Makes Final Call on Kenny Pickett’s Starting Chances in 2022

Getty Steelers QB Kenny Pickett prepares to take the field.

Mike Tomlin appears to have closed the door on rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Pittsburgh Steelers head coach discussed his quarterback situation on Sept. 11 and disclosed that he has no plans for the former Pitt star to play in 2022.

In speaking with FOX NFL Sunday’s Jay Glazer before the Steelers’ Week 1 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, Tomlin said Pittsburgh is Mitch Trubisky’s team.

“According to people inside [the Steelers organization], and those people are Mike Tomlin, this has always been Mitch Trubisky’s team,” Glazer said on FOX NFL Sunday.

Despite Steelers Nation’s majority rule, Tomlin opted for the most experienced quarterback.

“I know a lot of fans said Kenny Pickett, as he started playing well in the preseason; maybe the rookie has a chance. That’s not been the plan there in Pittsburgh. I talked to Mike [Tomlin] again this morning about it, and he said, ‘This is Trubisky’s team.’”

Pickett showed poise and confidence his first few games out with the Black & Gold and put up 21 yards and three touchdowns on 29 completions. It was a small sample size, often versus second and third-string players and vanilla playbooks, but nevertheless, solid production in his first pro matchups.

While the rookie was disappointed, he understands it’s a process.

“Just kind of being there, an extra coach, whatever we need, whatever Mitch needs to help him out,” Pickett said in a Sept. 7 press conference. “Give the guys a great look on the (scout team) and be a guy for Mitch on the sideline, go off what I see, help them any way I can.”

The former No. 2 overall pick did just enough this offseason to be named the starter and hold off Pickett for at least one more season. Unless the Steelers intend to deal him after the season, Trubisky won’t hit free agency until 2024.

The only way to truly test Pickett is by putting him into the game, and, barring injury to Trubisky, it’s not happening anytime soon.

Mitch Trubisky Injury History

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ new signal-caller does come with a bit of an injury history, as he’s dealt with two shoulder injuries since 2018 as part of the Chicago Bears.

According to SB Nation’s Buffalo Rumblings, Mitch Trubisky missed two games in the middle of the 2018 season with a right shoulder A/C joint sprain.

Trubisky sustained a labrum tear in his non-throwing shoulder the following season and missed one game. He had offseason surgery to repair the tear.

And, finally, Trubisky missed two games in the 2020 season with the same injury from 2018 and a hip pointer injury in Week 7.

Trubisky did not get a regular-season start with the Buffalo Bills in 2021, so hopefully, that nagging shoulder had a chance to heal fully.

Pickett could be forced to wait until 2023 or 2024 before he sees his first regular-season start. But given Trubisky’s history, don’t be surprised if Pickett has to step in at some point.

Ben Roethlisberger Era

All hope is not lost for fans who were clamoring for the Pittsburgh Steelers to start the season with Kenny Pickett. Nearly two decades ago, a quarterback by the name of Ben Roethlisberger entered the 2004 season second on the depth chart.

In a Baltimore Ravens-dominated game on Sept. 19, 2004, quarterback Tommy Maddox sustained ligament damage in his right elbow. Roethlisberger entered the game and never looked back.

The future Hall of Famer went on to win 15 consecutive games until getting knocked out of the AFC Conference Championship game by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Roethlisberger’s career turned out pretty well. If Trubisky were to miss any time, perhaps the story of the backup rookie quarterback would be retold with a different main character.

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