11:50am: Pickett’s tightrope procedure is complete, and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports a two-to-four week absence should be expected. When speaking to the media, head coach Mike Tomlin declined to rule Pickett out for any games beyond the Steelers’ Week 14 matchup, however. His recovery process will be worth watching closely as it pertains to Pittsburgh’s playoff outlook.
9:33am: The ankle injury which Kenny Pickett suffered in Week 13 will force him to miss time, but it may not be season-ending. The Steelers’ starting quarterback will undergo surgery today, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Rapoport adds, crucially, that the Steelers will not place Pickett on injured reserve. Doing so would require at least a four-week absence and, for all intents and purposes, shut him down for the remainder of the campaign. Pickett will miss Pittsburgh’s upcoming Thursday night game at a minimum, Rapoport notes, so Mitch Trubisky will handle starting duties against the Patriots.
Pickett’s procedure will address the lingering issue which he has been dealing with throughout the season. Rapoport notes the 2022 first-rounder’s surgery will be aimed at repairing a high ankle injury, so it would come as no surprise if he were to miss more than one game as a result. The Steelers could still find themselves in contention for an AFC playoff spot in the closing weeks of the season, however, so Pickett’s recovery will be a major storyline.
Pittsburgh sits at 7-5 after yesterday’s upset loss against the Cardinals. Offensive production was an issue in that game, something which has been the case for much of the year. The Steelers’ lack of improvement on that side of the ball led to the firing of Matt Canada, and an uptick in efficiency appeared to be on the horizon based on the team’s first outing after the decision. Questions will be raised about their ability to consistently produce with Trubisky at the helm for the time being, though.
The veteran has been in Pittsburgh since 2022, the year in which he ceded the starting role to Pickett midseason. Pittsburgh has had to use Trubisky on a number of occasions since then, however, owing to Pickett’s injury troubles. The 25-year-old’s latest ailment will interrupt his first full season as a starter, one in which he has roughly duplicated his statistics from his rookie campaign. While that has limited the Steelers’ output in the passing game, they have leaned on their rushing attack in recent weeks in particular.
Pittsburgh rushed for 130 yards in Week 13, using the tandem of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren in the backfield. That helped raise the team’s average to 115 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 14th in the NFL (compared to 30th in their passing output). A ground-heavy approach would come as little surprise with Trubisky now atop the depth chart as the Steelers look to continue their postseason push with a shorthanded offense.