2022 Training Camp Questions: How Truly ‘Open’ Is Steelers’ QB Competition?

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: How truly ‘open’ is the quarterback competition?

The Steelers are searching for a quarterback on two planes. On the one hand, they need a long-term, franchise quarterback. They identified Kenny Pickett as potentially being that player, so they used their first-round draft pick on him. At the same time, they must also find the quarterback for 2022, and that doesn’t have to be the rookie right away.

While Mason Rudolph returns to the team for his fifth season, it has been free agent Mitch Trubisky who has taken nearly all of the first-team reps thus far. And we have heard from a number of sources that it’s essentially his job to lose.

Moreover, we have heard multiple people from the outside commenting about how they think the competition should truly be open and that the best quarterback should get the job. But the fact that the question is even being raised is notable—how open is this quarterback competition in seriousness?

We often seem to get the impression that as long as Trubisky doesn’t completely flub the entire training camp and preseason process, he’s going to be given the opportunity to be the start for the regular season opener.

But what if he is not the quarterback who performs the best over the course of the next month? Many observers of training camp, for example, seem to believe that Rudolph has actually been the best quarterback. What if that’s true, and it continues to be true all the way through September? What are the odds that he would actually be allowed to start?

The rookie, Pickett, also showed significant, meaningful strides from the first week of training camp to the second. If he shows a steady growth over the course of the next month, to the point where they might be comfortable putting him on the field—if he is the best quarterback of the group—will he start? Or is it just Trubisky or bust, unless Trubisky busts?

And if it’s not an open competition but rather one that is heavily handicapped—why?

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