We are five days, or rather five practices, into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 edition of training camp. A lot of things about it are different from prior years, starting with a reversion back to the familiar venue of Saint Vincent College. The biggest difference, though, is the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, and a whole crop of new quarterbacks.
Spectators—including reporters—have been monitoring changes to the proceedings at the position closely because of these circumstances. It became a big deal when at the end of last week’s practices, for example, rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett took one single rep in the ‘seven shots’ goal-line drill.
Well, we were in for a doozy yesterday with the Steelers’ first padded practice. Not only did Pickett get multiple snaps in the drill, but he got them ahead of Mason Rudolph, and then continued to take second-string snaps in scrimmage drills. Should we read anything into that?
“You should not, but I’m sure you will”, head coach Mike Tomlin said when a reporter asked him exactly that question.
Tomlin has been bombarded daily for updates about the state of the quarterback race, even with reporters knowing, or being in a position in which they should know, that not only would no updates be provided, but also, that there were no updates.
When evaluating a group of players that are new to you, part of the process is putting them in a variety of different circumstances and seeing how they react to them. Working with different personnel is a part of that process, and it’s something that we see at every position every year. This will continue to happen.
“There will be more of that. All of those guys are running in all groups, it’s just part of team development”, the head coach said, giving an answer that really ought not to be necessary, though sometimes you do have to ask the obvious questions so that you can have the obvious answers on record.
By and large, Rudolph has been the most successful quarterback in training camp thus far with the snaps he has been given, while Pickett has struggled the most, but the rookie made some strides over the last two practices.
It is veteran free-agent signing Mitch Trubisky, however, who is regarded as the favorite to be the starter this season, with multiple national reporters characterizing his relationship with the starting job as being his to lose.
Trubisky has consistently taken first-team reps since the spring, from the very first day of OTAs through to the first day of padded practices yesterday. Can the other quarterbacks on the roster change that? Tomlin’s remarks suggest that we will see some mixing and matching with others getting opportunities to run first team, but can they show enough to take away the job?