The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.
There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.
Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.
There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: How will the first-team quarterback reps be distributed this week?
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin left the door open for quarterback Mason Rudolph this week. While he insisted that he was only thinking about the next day, he did stress that the next day very well could involve the fifth-year veteran getting practice reps if starter Kenny Pickett were unable to work.
We don’t have much clarity on that, unfortunately, from Tomlin. He said during his press conference yesterday that the rookie was seeing doctors at the time he was speaking so he didn’t have answers about what level of participation he might have, if any. But I’m thinking that the fact he didn’t have an answer, in contrast to last time, suggests that he won’t be working today.
If that is the case, how does it go? I’m sure Mitch Trubisky will take the first reps, and probably the majority of the reps. But how ajar is this door? Let’s say Pickett is unable to work at all this week and clearly is not going to play. How much work is Rudolph going to get in practice, and what would Tomlin have to see if he could conceivably start his third-stringer over his backup?
Now, a three-interception game is the backdrop to this conversation. That was Trubisky’s game, and he threw two of them in field goal range. He has talked multiple times since the game ended about how big it worked against them to take points off the board, and I’m sure he doesn’t take that lightly.
Rudolph is a guy he has years’ worth of experience with. Maybe he sees that he’s taken him a bit for granted this year with the shiny new toys on the roster, at least one of which doesn’t look as shiny as it did back in the spring.
Truth be told, I’m not sure what we’re even going to find out today if Pickett doesn’t work. If the two backups split reps, will we even hear about it? Will Tomlin put a gag order on players to keep them from answering questions about it? I think that’s a distinct possibility.