The Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback battle will be the biggest storyline surrounding the black and gold this summer. All three quarterbacks are taking part in OTAs, with Mitchell Trubisky receiving first-team reps ahead of fellow veteran Mason Rudolph and rookie Kenny Pickett.
Given that he is a rookie, Pickett not receiving first-team reps is not a surprise. It was notable, however, that Trubisky received first-team reps ahead of Rudolph, who is hoping to win the starting job after serving as Ben Roethlisberger's backup each of the last four years. Trubisky said that the terminology is his biggest challenge as he begins his first season in Pittsburgh. A former first-round pick, Trubisky spent his first four NFL seasons under Matt Nagy's system in Chicago before spending the 2021 season in Buffalo inside Brian Daboll's offense.
"It's been different than what I've been used to," Trubisky said, via Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider. "But you know how they say it's easier to learn multiple languages once you learn one language? Well, that's how it's been for me being in multiple offenses now. I've been able to pick this one up pretty quickly with the verbiage, because in the NFL everyone runs the same stuff, it's just what you call it. So just applying that, I've been able to pick it up pretty quickly and get the young guys up to speed.
"We're all going through this together with the installs and trying to get everybody on the same page. We've put a lot in and we've looked pretty good so far."
Rudolph said that he will use his current place in the pecking order as motivation. He also expects to get a legitimate opportunity as it relates to winning the starting job.
"I can't control what goes on on the second floor," Rudolph said. "But I have been told that, and I think I'm excited to do my best to compete to be the guy. So, yes, I do."
As expected, Trubisky and Rudolph fielded questions about Steelers first-round pick Kenny Pickett during the first day of OTAs. Both quarterbacks provided diplomatic answers regarding Pickett, who will compete with both players this summer to become Roethlisberger's initial successor.
Trubisky said that he wasn't surprised when the Steelers took Pickett with the 20th overall pick. He added that while the possibility of Pittsburgh drafting a quarterback was not discussed prior to signing with the team, Trubisky expected to be in a position battle this summer regardless of where he signed as a free agent.
"We needed to add to the quarterback room, and that's what we did," Trubisky said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We're happy to have him and looking forward to working with him.
"I knew coming into the situation ... wherever I was going to go, I was going to have to come in and compete, earn the trust of my teammates and get back onto the field with hard work, my talent, and just being a leader on this team."
Rudolph, who has a 5-4-1 record as the Steelers' starting quarterback, said he is not looking at this summer any differently than he did the previous ones.
"Each year I've been here, there's been competition," he said. "If you look back, there's been a lot of quarterbacks that have filtered through here. I think the opportunity to play this year, everyone's going to be competing and putting their best foot forward.
"I'm approaching it like I have, the same mindset I've had the last four years. Every single day, every single rep I get, try to make the most of it and getting better."
The comments from Rudolph and Trubisky on Monday mirror both players' actions regarding Pickett shortly after the draft. Pickett acknowledged then that both quarterbacks had already reached out to him.
"Two great guys," Pickett said. "I'm really looking forward to working with them."
Each quarterback brings something unique to the competition. Pickett brings the promise of a first-round pick. Trubisky is a former Pro Bowler with more than 50 career NFL starts (including playoff experience) under his belt. Rudolph is the Steelers' longest-tenured quarterback as he enters his fifth season with the team.
While he expectsbetween his quarterbacks, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin won't read too much into what transpires over OTAs. The Steelers have roughly 100 days before their season opener in Cincinnati, and Tomlin expects to use each day as an opportunity to make his team -- and quarterbacks -- better.
"Nobody," Tomlin said, "is going to win a job or lose a job out here in shorts in May."