Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett started every game for the Pittsburgh Steelers since he was put into the lineup, his first start going back to week five. That was at least until this past Sunday when he was forced to sit out with a concussion.
It was “a unique experience” for him, he told reporters yesterday via the team’s website [the video is currently down as of this writing, or the link would be here], different even from earlier this season as the backup. “Definitely like being out there more though,” he added with a laugh as he prepared to return to the lineup.
“I liked hearing the chatter on the headset,” he said when he was asked if he learned anything from getting a different perspective from the game. “That was the first time I had a headset on where I was hearing all the coaches. When I was the two this year, I just had the helmet on, which is just hearing what Coach Canada says, which I normally hear. But I liked hearing the chatter in between series and what coaches are thinking.”
By “the two”, he means the backup quarterback. That means that he was wearing a standard gameday helmet on the sidelines, which is equipped with an earpiece which relays offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s calls from up in the booth.
Inactive this time rather than even dressing for the game, he had the opportunity to wear a standard headset, something the coaches typically wear, which is a fully open line of communication throughout the team, rather than a direct line of the coordinator. You get a much fuller picture of what gameday is like there.
But there’s no way to experience gameday like playing in the game, and Pickett is eager to get back to it. He’d much rather be the one getting the pointers from the guys on the sideline than being one of the guys on the sideline giving the pointers. But he embraced that role as well when it was his to own.
“I was putting in input just like how Mitch [Trubisky] and Mason [Rudolph] do when I’m in there,” he told reporters. “We have a pretty good system when the quarterback comes off the field of relaying information and what the coaches are thinking.”
A first-round pick out of Pittsburgh, Pickett was drafted to be the future of the franchise, though they were not intending to rush him out there. They signed the veteran Trubisky in free agency and opened the season with him as the starter. He was only pulled in the middle of Week 4 due to poor performance.
Outside of time missed due to the two concussions he’s suffered, Pickett has been out there for every snap since then. He’s completed 191 of 294 pass attempts this season for 1797 yards with four touchdowns to eight interceptions (all of which occurred before the bye week) and three rushing touchdowns. He has two game-winning drives under his belt.