During his Thursday press conference, Mike Tomlin announced Mitch Trubisky will start the Pittsburgh Steelers’ preseason opener Saturday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
“Yes,” Tomlin said via the team’s YouTube channel when asked if Trubisky would get the start Saturday.
That news comes as no surprise. Though framed as a battle, Trubisky has functioned as the team’s #1 quarterback since being signed. He ran with the 1’s during the spring and remained there throughout training camp. The quarterback room has had its fair share of ups and downs but Trubisky remains the odds-on favorite to start the Week 1 opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Tomlin confirmed the team’s top three quarterbacks will play against Seattle: Trubisky, Mason Rudolph, and Kenny Pickett. Of course, Tomlin referring to the “three” quarterbacks means seventh-rounder Chris Oladokun won’t play. He’s yet to take a single rep in 7v7 or team session this camp as the team’s distant fourth-string QB.
Tomlin was slightly less clear about who would be the #2 quarterback behind Trubisky.
“It’s probably the way it’s played out here at this point. Like I mentioned to you guys, I wasn’t going to be blowing in the wind regarding the quarterback rotation. We’ve been thoughtful about giving guys opportunities to work in different groups. But our intentions are to play them the first time out very much the way we started this process.”
While not confirmed, that would suggest Rudolph will be the #2 followed by Pickett as the #3. Tomlin’s comment about “the way we started the process” implies that’ll be the order. Rudolph ran as the #2 during the spring and for the start of camp, with Pickett more recently rotating second-string reps and opportunities over the last two weeks of camp. Tomlin went on to say the first team would roughly play the first quarter, the second team the second and third quarters, and the third string the fourth quarter, though Tomlin said that rotation will be a rough outline and not set in stone.
Tomlin was later asked what the quarterbacks need to show inside a stadium.
“Moving the unit, taking care of the football.”
That’s the essence of quarterback play. Leading drives, putting points on the board, not giving the ball away. Foundational stuff, but for a quarterback battle with no franchise-caliber player like Ben Roethlisberger, each one of these players must do the basic and little things in order to earn more chances the rest of the way.