Coming off of a strong NFL debut in his first preseason game followed by a good week of practice at training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett will get reps with the second-stringers Saturday on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, head coach Mike Tomlin revealed to the media Thursday.
After completing 13-of-15 throws for 95 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Steelers to a last-second win over the Seattle Seahawks at Acrisure Stadium, Pickett earned more reps higher up the depth chart in practice. He responded well to the added reps and made the decision easy for Steelers’ coaches to give him a longer, better look with the “varsity” as Tomlin stated Thursday.
Knowing that, Pickett will get second-team reps behind veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky, while long-time Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph will get third-team reps.
“In regards to the quarterbacks, we intend to play all three in this game. Mitchell [Trubisky] will start. Kenny [Pickett] will be next and then Mason [Rudolph] will finish it off,” Tomlin said to reporters Thursday, according to video via Steelers.com. “All three guys have performed well. I really think the main emphasis and the mentality regarding how we structured it this week is we just simply want to see Kenny in more varsity action.
“We know more about Mason. Mitch has been around the professional game obviously and so this is a big week for him in terms of maybe getting in the first half of this game and I I would imagine getting the opportunity to see frontline defenders for Jacksonville. And so I’m excited about those guys continuing to work and lead and make plays and take care of the football, all the things that we value,” Tomlin added. “Whether it’s the formal components of the job or the informal components to the job, I’ve really been impressed by the group. And we’ll just continue to sort through it day-by-day and obviously in-stadium performance is a significant component of it. Like I’ve mentioned repeatedly, because of the live pocket and Jacksonville has a high quality rush with top tier rushmen, you know, Walker and Allen and others, so we’re excited about that.”
Though he won’t exactly be playing with the starting unit, getting a chance to work with backups higher up the depth chart than what he’s been accustomed to in training camp to date will be a good challenge for Pickett, who is making a push for the starting job late in camp.
Trubisky will get his second straight start, which is no surprise based on how the Steelers have handled things throughout the offseason and into training camp. How long the veteran plays remains to be determined, but Tomlin did hint that Trubisky could see the first half, which would mean the Steelers are treating Saturday’s preseason game as the tune-up for the regular season.
Tomlin also has every reason to be pleased with what he’s seen from the three quarterbacks in training camp and one game in the preseason. All three have performed up to expectations so far, and all have shown improvements at various times throughout training camp, making the discussion at the position a difficult one for all the right reasons.