Kenny Pickett has drawn rave reviews in and outside of Pittsburgh for his preseason performance in the Steelers' quarterback competition. But don't pencil in the first-round draft pick as the starter just yet. Head coach Mike Tomlin announced Friday that Mitch Trubisky will open Sunday's preseason finale under center, with Pickett taking No. 2 reps against the Lions. With just over two weeks until the Steelers kick off their 2022 regular season, that puts Trubisky on track to be Pittsburgh's QB1, for now.
Ever since signing a two-year, $14.28M contract in free agency, the 28-year-old Trubisky has been the official front-runner to replace the retired Ben Roethlisberger, taking the bulk of first-team reps throughout the summer. Pickett, drafted 20th overall this spring, has seemingly elevated his chances of taking over with strong showings in each of the team's two preseason games. Both quarterbacks, along with backup Mason Rudolph, posted productive stat lines in a 16-15 win over the Jaguars last Saturday.
While Tomlin did not elaborate on how much time each of the three quarterbacks will get in the final preseason game, the scheduled order of appearance -- Trubisky, Pickett, Rudolph -- is an apparent indication of their depth-chart standing. When asked previously if the starting job could be decided by performances in the last exhibition, Tomlin confirmed as much.
"They're making it difficult for us,"earlier this month. "It's tough to manage three capable guys, but they're forcing us to do it because they're making the necessary plays. They're anticipating, the timing has been good, [and] the accuracy has been good. Mitch's silver bullet, if you will, is his fluidity and mobility. He's a really good athlete. Rudolph throws a really good deep ball. [And Pickett] has been Steady Eddie. ... I don't think you can get him in an environment where he gets flustered."
Whomever ends up under center, they'll face a tall task right out of the gate in a few weeks. The Steelers open their 2022 season on Sept. 11 in Cincinnati, where the reigning AFC champion Bengals will play host.