Kenny Pickett is fully expected to return to the lineup and start Saturday night’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders, a must-win game for the Pittsburgh Steelers (and frankly, must-win for the Raiders too). Pickett missed his first NFL game due to injury last week, sitting out the team’s win over the Carolina Panthers due to a concussion suffered in Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens. Early in that game, he was sacked and thrown down by LB Roquan Smith.
Initially, Pickett was checked for a concussion, cleared and returned to the field, before being re-checked and pulled out of the game for good, officially entering protocol. A bit unusual of a process but speaking to reporters Thursday, Pickett outlined what happened against the Ravens.
Per The Trib’s Joe Rutter, Pickett said he initially felt fine after being sacked. But after running around more the following series, he experienced vision problems and alerted the Steelers’ medical staff after the offense came off the field. Here’s what Pickett told reporters via Rutter.
Pickett went on to say he has symptoms last week but those have subsided. Good on Pickett for being honest and upfront and reporting his issues. The timeline certainly makes a lot more sense and shows the Steelers weren’t reckless or did anything wrong in their process. As soon as Pickett showed and reported symptoms, he was removed from the game and immediately put in protocol.
In the full interview released by the team, Pickett says his symptoms were worse than his first concussion in Week Six against Tampa Bay. And since, he’s changed helmets to try to decrease the chances of suffering a third.
“It has the speed flex in the back of my helmet, “he said via the team website, “which is where the ground has been causing my concussions, Not really getting hit from the front. But slamming my head off the ground is what has been the issue. So it has the speed flex in the back, which I think will help you out.”
Following the Ravens’ game, Pickett went through practice on a limited basis leading up to the Panthers’ game. But he never received full clearance and after being listed as doubtful last Friday, the team officially ruled him out Saturday. Mitch Trubisky earned the start and played winning football, taking care of the ball as Pittsburgh rushed 45 times to beat the Panthers 24-16.
Pickett was a full participant in yesterday’s practice and is fully expected to play this weekend. Per 93.7 The Fan’s Jeff Hathhorn, Pickett isn’t worried about suffering two concussions just weeks apart.
“No. I went through with the doctors and listened to what they said,” Pickett said. “Definitely the right call was not to play last week. Could have pushed it but I think the right choice was to sit out one week and be full go this week.”
On the season, he’s started nine games, completing 65% of his passes with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Unimpressive numbers but he’s improved since the bye, not throwing an interception since Week 8, though a couple more touchdown passes would be nice to even out the numbers.
The Steelers will host the Raiders on Christmas Eve before wrapping up their season at Baltimore and home to Cleveland.