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Kenny Pickett making ‘late push’ for Pittsburgh Steelers starting QB gig in Week 1

Matt Johnson

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett opened the preseason third on the depth chart behind Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. As Week 1 draws closer, Pickett could now be challenging for the starting job and taking over the offense far sooner than expected.

Trubisky arrived for training camp as the favorite to start in Week 1 with any quarterback competition viewed as just being for show. While Pittsburgh loves Pickett and held all the confidence in him as the long-term starter, it was evident who the organization wanted to open the season as the starting quarterback.

Related: Kenny Pickett making Pittsburgh Steelers QB decision difficult

However, things got off to a rough start. Trubisky struggled with his first-team reps, but he still held a firm lead in the position battle with Rudolph and Pickett also struggling. As the regular season drew closer, there seemed to be nothing standing in the way of the former No. 2 overall pick from being named the starter.

As the Steelers advance towards the end of training camp with more first-teams reps up for grabs, though, it appears the competition might be back on.

According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Pickett is making a late push for the starting quarterback gig in Pittsburgh. After two impressive performances in the preseason, the rookie is catching everyone’s attention. As the coaching staff offers more praise, they are rewarding the 24-year-old with more reps with the starting offense in practice.

Related: Kenny Pickett leads NFL Rookie of the Year candidates

“The thing that stood out with Kenny from the games is that it hasn’t been too big for him. He has gone in and performed very well and not been overwhelmed by the circumstances and the situations and the pressure. Secondly, he has shown a knack, particularly in this second game, to have poise and anticipation. He made some throws with defenders right up in his face.”

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan on Kenny Pickett

Many of the attributes Mike Sullivan mentions are especially vital for young quarterbacks. The Steelers’ offensive line is below average, putting more pressure on the signal-caller to make quick decisions and remain calm under pressure. For Pickett to be showing those mental traits this early in his NFL career is promising.

While the offensive line is a major question with this team, everything else is structured to support a young quarterback. Pittsburgh’s receiving corps is one of the best in the NFL and its rushing attack led by Najee Harris can help take pressure off a young passer and make the threat of play-action more viable.

Related: NFL insider suggests Kenny Pickett might not start until Week 18

We still don’t expect Pickett to start in Week 1, Trubisky is the highest-paid quarterback on the roster and the coaching staff clearly believes in him. However, the timeline for when Pickett will become the Steelers starting quarterback should be moved up. It wouldn’t be a surprise if we see the rookie on the field by Oct. 2 against the New York Jets.