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Pittsburgh Steelers HC Mike Tomlin sheds light on QB competition before Week 1

Matt Johnson

Many viewed the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback competition heading into training camp as a formality. While the franchise is high on first-round pick Kenny Pickett, everyone believed Mitch Trubisky is the unquestioned starter and the ongoing battle is more for show.

Trubisky, the highest-paid quarterback on Pittsburgh’s depth chart, should be viewed as the favorite. He offers the pedigree as a former No. 2 overall pick, brings the athleticism head coach Mike Tomlin wants from his starter and his experience gives him an edge over Pickett.

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However, things got off to a rough start this summer. Trubisky struggled during his first-team reps in the first few weeks of training camp, failing to run away with a job Pittsburgh wanted to hand to him.

It opened the door for Pickett and Mason Rudolph to prove themselves. Now, just days before the first Steelers preseason game, Tomlin admits both backups are at least giving the coaching staff something to think about.

Appearing on CBS HQ, Pittsburgh’s head coach shared important insight on the ongoing competition and where each quarterback stands.

Related: NFL insider predicts Kenny Pickett doesn’t start until Week 18

“They’re making it difficult for us. 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.”

Pittsburgh Steelers HC Mike Tomlin on Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph

Why Mitch Trubisky will be the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback in Week 1

Tomlin did make it clear that Trubisky would be the starter if Week 1 of the regular season arrived this weekend. Pittsburgh still likes a lot of what he has to offer as the starter, especially after seeing him settle down and become a more consistent performer in practice as of late.

While the Steelers’ coach offered praise for each of the team’s three quarterbacks, he noted that Trubisky’s athleticism gives him an edge right now.

“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. (Pickett) has been Steady Eddie. Kenny P, I don’t think you can get him in an environment where he gets flustered. … We saw that at Pitt and it’s it’s been the same. It doesn’t matter what drill or what environment you put him in. He’s Steady Eddy and really cool.” 

Mike Tomlin on Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering Tomlin stated this offseason he wanted a starting quarterback with mobility as a key skill. After putting up with Ben Roethlisberger essentially being a statue in the pocket for years, the Steelers’ coach wanted a dramatic change.

For now, Pickett is third on the depth chart and that will be reflected in the first preseason game. However, the rookie’s talent, athleticism and poise should allow him to surpass Rudolph quickly. After that, he’ll likely have to wait for either an injury or Trubisky to struggle significantly.

Even if he doesn’t play a lot in 2022, the organization remains extremely high on the future of its franchise quarterback.