After training camp practice concluded on Wednesday, head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the media giving the undated injury report and then opened up for questions.
When asked about the increase in second team reps this week for QB Kenny Pickett, Tomlin pointed to Pickett having an elevated role Saturday when the Steelers take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 for preseason play.
“His preparation, more than anything,” Tomlin responded regarding what has impressed him on Pickett’s development on per official transcript provided by the team. “He’s going to get some reps in more varsity-like action in this game in an effort to get to know him and see how he fares. What he’s doing out here is just preparing for it,”
Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot has been reported that Pickett has run mainly with the second team offense this week, having some exposure to the first team unit as well in the two-minute drill on Tuesday. Tomlin pointed to Pickett’s increased exposure to the first and second team offenses as preparation to likely run with those units Saturday, thus allowing him to build some chemistry with the guys in the huddle prior to taking the field.
Pickett likely earned himself some more action with the second-string offense given his performance this past Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks where he completed 13-of-15 pass attempts for 95 yards and two TDs, one of which would be the game winner to Tyler Vaughns with three seconds left in the game.
Pickett had a slow start to camp but has really come on strong the last few days including his first preseason performance, this improvement has given Tomlin confidence to see what Pickett can do in an elevated role playing with better skill positions and blockers while facing better quality competition. For Pickett, it’s a rite of passage in his development into a hopeful QB franchise. Much like Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, Pickett started out training camp as #3 on the depth chart behind Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. However, he now has been mixing in with Rudolph on the second team offense while being occasionally sprinkled in with the first team.
This doesn’t mean that Pickett has overtaken Rudolph for the QB2 spot on the depth chart yet, but it likely will be the case at some point during the preseason or in the regular season as Pickett is the future at QB and Rudolph is on an expiring contract. Be on the lookout to see how soon Pickett may replace Trubisky on Saturday against the Jaguars and if he gets some run with the first team offense before they cede to the second string.