The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in unfamiliar territory just two weeks out from another iteration of training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. For the first time in 18 seasons, the Steelers will have a true completion under center at the quarterback position following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger.
Veteran free agent Mitch Trubisky, the incumbent Mason Rudolph, and 2022 rookie first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett will all find themselves competing for reps and playing time in training camp later this month in hopes of locking down the starting job in the Steel City. The competition has garnered a lot of attention throughout the offseason in OTAs and mandatory minicamp, becoming the main storyline for the Steelers in a new era.
Knowing the names involved in the competition, it hasn’t been very enjoyable for some, but for third-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith — who appeared with hosts Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller Tuesday on SiriusXM’s Moving The Chains show — he’s enjoyed watching the quarterbacks compete daily, knowing it will only make the Steelers a better team in the end.
“Yeah, it’s been great watching both the two of them compete and just get better every single day. Mitch is guy who’s coming in who’s been to the playoffs before and he is experienced quarterback and so what he brings to the table is awesome. And so it’s been cool to be able to get to know him and just see the way he works, the way he carries himself every single day is pretty awesome,” Highsmith said to Kirwan and Miller, according to audio via SiriusXM. “And then Kenny as well, just him coming in as a rookie, just having the mindset that he has to just be great. I see the way he carries himself and he’s always one of those guys who’s really working hard at practice and asking older guys.
“I can see him and Mitch developing the chemistry, just really just developing a relationship so that Mitch can be able to teach him some things,” Highsmith added. “And I’m just excited to see how those two guys really just continue to work and continue to compete. And so, I’m just excited for what lies ahead with him.”
It’s very interesting that Highsmith doesn’t mention Rudolph at all, especially after Rudolph has started some games that Highsmith’s played in, as well as being his teammate the last three seasons. Maybe that’s a signal at the way things are going internally, at least from a player’s perspective, with the belief that Rudolph won’t get much run in the competition overall and could be out the door via trade sooner, rather than later.
You’ve read it all before his offseason though. Trubisky brings a bunch of experience (29-21 record in his career), along with a high pedigree (2017 No. 2 overall pick) and an ideal set of skills to the table in second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system. He’s bringing playoff experience to the position as well, which is vital for a Steelers’ team aiming to compete right away in a transition season, loading up defensively while adding some serious pieces to the offense as well.
As for Pickett, he’s the future franchise quarterback of the black and gold, or so the Steelers certainly hope he is. So far, he’s come in and had the right mindset and has really worked on his craft while trying to learn the playbook and familiarize himself with new teammates. It shouldn’t be glossed over that the former Pitt star continues to be praised by veteran teammates for his preparation process and overall mindset.
We’ll see how the quarterback competition plays out in training camp, but so far it’s gone about as good as anyone — internally and externally — could have hoped for.
It is great to hear that Trubisky, knowing this could be one of his final shots at sticking in the NFL as a starting quarterback, is developing a strong relationship with Pickett, helping bring the first-round pick along under his wing, something Trubisky didn’t quite have in Chicago as the former No. 2 overall pick.