Kenny Pickett Has Chance To Become Early Leader In Steelers’ Locker Room, Roethlisberger Says

While Ben Roethlisberger believes veteran Mitch Trubisky should be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starter to open the 2022 season, rookie Kenny Pickett has a chance to make a different mark on the Steelers’ locker room than even Roethlisberger did in 2004. During his debut episode of his new podcast Footbalhn, Roethlisberger said a younger Steelers’ team will offer Pickett more chances to lead.

“I think I had a really veteran group,” Roethlisberger said of his rookie year. “Kenny is like, that group in there, he might even be older than some of the like second year guys. It’s a younger group on offense, so it’s not the same kind of pressure. He’s got a chance to really take that group kind of by the collar and be like, ‘I’m the leader of this group.'”

While Roethlisberger and Pickett stepped into similar situations, teams not in rebuilding modes with a ground-attack mindset and strong defenses, Pickett’s on a much younger team, especially on the offensive side of the football. Here’s the ages of some of the key starters for each, comparing 2004 to 2022.


RB Jerome Bettis – 32
WR Plaxico Burress – 27
WR Hines Ward – 28
TE Jerame Tuman – 28
LT Marvel Smith -26
LG Alan Faneca – 28
C Jeff Hartings – 32
RG – Keydrick Vincent – 26
RT Oliver Ross – 30

Average Age: 28.6


RB Najee Harris – 24
WR Diontae Johnson – 26
WR Chase Claypool – 24
LT Dan Moore Jr. – 23
LG Kevin Dotson – 25
C Mason Cole – 26
RG James Daniels – 24
RT Chukwuma Okorafor – 25

Average Age: 24.6

Put it this way. The average age of that 2004 lineup was 28.6 years old. The oldest projected Steelers’ starter is 26, two years younger than that ’04 average. Pickett himself feels like a veteran of that group, nearly reaching the team’s average age having turned 24 back in June. As Roethlisberger points out, that offers the chance to take charge more than in 2004 when Roethlisberger wasn’t looked to be the leader. That role went to the likes of Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, and Alana Faneca.

But Pickett will likely have to be patient before stepping into such a direct-leader role. Odds remain strong he’ll be the backup quarterback to open the season behind Trubisky, who isn’t that much older than barely 28 but comes with plenty more experience. Pickett will hope to have the same initial success as Roethlisberger but that’ll be dependent on an offensive line that looks much worse and a defense that isn’t likely going to be quite as elite as those mid-2000s units.

Check out Roethlisberger’s first episode below.

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