The Steelers made unwanted history over the past few days by losing consecutive contests against teams eight games under .500 via their upset defeats against the Cardinals and Patriots. In the latter contest, backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky filled in for an injured Kenny Pickett. That setup will likely continue for the time being.
Pickett suffered a high ankle sprain during Sunday’s loss to Arizona, and he underwent surgery the next day in an attempt to minimize the time he missed as a result of the injury. Pittsburgh elected not to place him on injured reserve, a move which would have guaranteed a four-week absence. In spite of that, the team is indeed “bracing” for the possibility of Pickett missing that much time, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports.
The 2022 first-rounder was immediately ruled out for the Steelers’ Thursday night game in the wake of his procedure, but no further updates to his status have been announced. While his availability on a game-by-game basis will thus be worth monitoring closely, the Steelers face the possibility of relying on Trubisky at the helm for a critical late season stretch. Pittsburgh now sits at 7-6 on the outside of the AFC’s wild-card picture.
Pickett’s Year 2 performance had not lived up to expectations prior to his injury, with the Steelers’ offense as a whole struggling to find consistent production. The decision to dismiss offensive coordinator Matt Canada – which came about from head coach Mike Tomlin after multiple discussions with owner Art Rooney II – seemed to spark a turnaround in a win over the Bengals. The Steelers topped 400 yards in that game, but their offense took a step back in the Cardinals and Patriots losses, leaving the team with a challenging path in the closing weeks of the campaign.
Trubisky – who began the 2022 season as the starter before being replaced by Pickett on a full-time basis – has 56 starts to his name, making him an experienced spot starter. The former Bears No. 2 pick has generally put up underwhelming numbers during his time in Pittsburgh, however, which will lead to questions about the team’s offensive capabilities down the stretch. As Pickett’s status remains in the air, the possibility looms that Trubisky will be counted on to steer the Steelers back into the playoff picture.