Guess what, folks. It’s training camp time. And that means it’s time for training camp questions. For the first time since 2019, the Pittsburgh Steelers are actually back at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe after having been forced to remain in Pittsburgh, where they held their past two training camps inside of the Field Formerly Known as Heinz.
Even though the Steelers are back on very familiar ground, more specifically on that of Chuck Noll Field, this is a training camp that is unusually full of certainty. After all, they haven’t had a genuine quarterback battle in a couple of decades, but they have one now with Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Mason Rudolph.
We’ve got yet another new offensive line, with some incoming veterans in James Daniels and Mason Cole. Myles Jack is in at inside linebacker, replacing Joe Schobert, and we’ll have to see if Devin Bush can return to form after last year’s dismal display.
There’s still so much going on, and training camp will only create more questions as we go along, even as it starts to provide some answers. We’ll be covering them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: Will Kenny Pickett have to ‘earn’ first-team reps before he actually sees them regularly?
It’s a mystifying notion to many people that a team might draft a quarterback in the first round and not immediately throw every opportunity his way to claim the starting job as soon as possible. The Steelers certainly don’t seem to be doing that with their rookie, 20th-overall selection Kenny Picket, and it has some wondering what the deal is.
Consistent with the procedure throughout the spring, Pickett has been taking third-string snaps behind Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph in the race for the starting quarterback job. Of the three, Rudolph has received the highest reviews for his performance thus far, and has also more evenly split first-team work with Trubisky.
As for Pickett, he has yet to be afforded many ‘quality’ snaps, especially in situational opportunities. He has not, for example, taken a snap in two days’ worth of the ‘seven shots’ drill, where the offense and defense scrimmage for seven plays from the two-yard line, the defense defending the goal line.
It doesn’t seem as though Pickett is going to be handed any greater opportunities without ‘earning’ them. Truth be told, his performance through three days of training camp has been uninspiring, though, due to the early nature of the proceedings, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it disappointing.
He is, after all, a rookie who is figuring out what it’s like to not only be a professional but to be a professional football player at the highest level. And he’s going against a pretty good defense, as well. Even without contact, T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Cameron Heyward are a lot to deal with.
But, as said, it’s been three days. For all we know, Pickett will take the first four snaps in seven shots on Monday and command a drive or two of first-team reps in team drills. It’s early to make any kind of declarations. All we can do is wonder, and ask questions, as we’re doing here.