Ben Roethlisberger made sure to reach out to the man drafted to replace his very large shoes. First round pick QB Kenny Pickett spoke with the media for the first time since draft weekend as he and the Steelers kickoff their rookie minicamp weekend. And he noted Roethlisberger recently reached out to him, offering advice and help however he best can.
“Heard from all the QBs who are here,” Pickett told reporters via the team website. “Ben called me up recently and that was awesome.”
If Roethlisberger has any “bad blood” with the organization, it certainly isn’t with his hopeful replacement. Roethlisberger stepped into a different set of circumstances in 2004 with veteran, established QBs already on the roster in Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch. Roethlisberger wasn’t part of a QB competition and didn’t start until he had to thanks to injuries to the men in front of him.
Pittsburgh certainly has veteran experience on the roster in the form of Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. But Trubisky is about as new to the team as Pickett is while Rudolph isn’t quite the grizzled veteran Maddox or Batch were at that stage of their careers. It’s also an open competition to be the Steelers’ starting QB with Pickett having a serious shot to be the starter when Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati Week One.
Pickett briefly expanded on what the conversation between him and Roethlisberger was like.
“Said he’s always there for me if I have any questions or advice. He’s an unbelievable player, a Hall of Famer, he’s definitely someone I’ll use as a resource in these coming weeks.”
Pickett would be wise to pick Roethlisberger’s brain, who has seen and done pretty much everything a quarterback can go through. Should Pickett start this year, similar to Roethlisberger, he’ll rely on a ground game and strong defense to win games. Of course, the Steelers need to be able to provide both, which means getting their run game out of the basement, where it’s sat for several seasons. Pittsburgh’s defense, especially its run defense, will also have to return to form. If those things happen, Pickett could have a successful rookie campaign.