Mike Tomlin Hoping To Learn ‘A Lot’ About Kenny Pickett In Rookie’s Preseason Debut

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 preseason opener will take place Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium against the Seattle Seahawks and that means it will be the debut of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, the team’s first round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh. Pickett is expected to be the third quarterback into the game Saturday night and if that’s the case, he likely won’t enter the contest until late in the second half.

During his Thursday press conference, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked specifically about Pickett and what he hopes he can learn about the rookie quarterback while seeing him face a live NFL defense that he hasn’t learned so far throughout the offseason and training camp process.

“A lot, a lot,” Tomlin said. “I mean, this guy hasn’t been in a live pocket yet. None of the quarterbacks have, and that component of it is significant in terms of their play, their ability to operate and make decisions in a timely manner. Their ability to absorb the punishment that comes with the game and the position. There’s so much involved in live quarterback play. Their ability to protect the football. And so, it’s a big opportunity for him and others.”

Pickett has mostly seen third-team reps so far in training camp practices. He has, however, occasional worked with the second team. According to daily reports from our own Alex Kozora, Pickett has made progress in the right direction since the start of training camp. However, like all three of the team’s top three quarterbacks, Pickett has had his good and bad days in training camp.

At the very least when it comes to Pickett’s 2022 debut in a Steelers’ uniform Saturday night, it will take place in very familiar surroundings for him thanks to him playing his collegiate home games at Acrisure Stadium, formerly known as Heinz Field. That aspect of Pickett’s Saturday night debut should provide him some comfort and hopefully prevent him from being overwhelmed about his first live NFL action against an opposing defense.

As a point of reference, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made his rookie preseason debut in 2004 on the road against the Detroit Lions and he followed then-starter Tommy Maddox into that contest due to backup quarterback Charlie Batch dealing with a knee injury that week. Roethlisberger entered that game at Ford Field early in second quarter and he proceeded to play four series in total before giving way to Brian St. Pierre in the third quarter. Roethlisberger completed 8 of his 13 total pass attempts in his first NFL preseason action for 84 yards. He threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El and did not have any interceptions. He also ran once for 10 yards.

Tomlin announced on Thursday that veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky will start Saturday night against the Seahawks and then insinuated that fellow veteran quarterback Mason Rudolph will follow him into the game. He said he expects Pickett to play with the third team in the fourth quarter but that the timing of that could change based on various situations and circumstances.

“We’ve got every intentions of playing the three quarterbacks,” Tomlin said. “How much is to be determined.”

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