Two games, two very strong performances in preseason action for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Fresh off of a tremendous showing in his NFL debut against the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium that included a game-winning drive in the final minutes, Pickett continued his strong play Saturday night on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, even in limited action.
Taking over for starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky midway through the second quarter, Pickett quarterbacked the Steelers for just two drives, but his final drive in two-minute action was sparkling once again. Pickett completed 4-of-5 passes on the two-minute drive, firing a touchdown to Benny Snell Jr. from 11 yards out on a swing pass out of the backfield against a Jacksonville blitz, giving the Steelers the lead at the half.
Pickett’s touchdown to Snell came just one play after the Steelers had a touchdown to Diontae Johnson wiped out due to offsetting penalties. The ability to bounce back from the penalty and fire a touchdown on the very next play was a great display of poise from the rookie.
Despite playing just two drives, Pickett finished 6-for-7 for 76 yards and the touchdown to Snell, again earning him a “winner” label from CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin following preseason action in Week 2. Through two preseason games, Pickett has thrown just three incompletions, which was a spike on the two-minute drive against the Jaguars.
He’s really starting to look like the real deal in the black and gold.
“The Pittsburgh product was always gonna be the fan favorite in the Steelers’ QB competition, but he was decisive and unfazed in limited action against the Jaguars, making the case with a seamless up-tempo scoring drive that he deserves genuine consideration as the Week 1 starter over Mitchell Trubisky, who’s more experienced but maybe no more talented,” Benjamin writes regarding Pickett as one of his winners from Week 2 of preseason.
Pickett is the fan favorite so far in the quarterback competition with Trubisky and veteran Mason Rudolph. While he’s had to deal with third-team reps in OTAs, minicamp and early in training camp, Pickett has progressed nicely with the Steelers under quarterback coach Mike Sullivan, forcing his way into second-team reps, where he’s looked rather good in preseason action.
While it’s unlikely that he’ll push Trubisky to be the starting quarterback Week 1 to open the regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road, Pickett is definitely putting the best performances on tape in preseason at the position. For now, it appears he’s competing with Mason Rudolph for the backup job in Pittsburgh.