Steelers expected to move forward with rookie Kenny Pickett as starting quarterback

After catching a glimpse of its future at quarterback last Sunday, Pittsburgh will begin the Kenny Pickett era in Week 5.

The Steelers are expected to move forward with Pickett as their starting QB, replacing veteran Mitchell Trubisky, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday, per a source.

Pittsburgh will go forward with what is considered an inevitable move after the team selected Pickett with the No. 20 overall pick in April. Trubisky won a three-man QB competition against Pickett and Mason Rudolph during training camp, but loses his job after four games.

Pickett’s first official start is no dandy, as the Steelers go on the road to face the Buffalo Bills (3-1) this Sunday.

Pickett’s promotion comes after being thrust into the lineup for Trubisky midway through the Steelers’ Week 4 loss to the New York Jets.

“I thought we needed a spark, man,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Pickett’s relief appearance. “We didn’t do much in the first half, not enough offensively, and I thought he could provide a spark for us.”

The rookie QB did provide that spark in the early going of the second half. Pickett’s number was quickly called on his very first drive, diving forward on a QB sneak on a crucial fourth-and-1 pitted on his own 31-yeard line. That drive ended with Pickett throwing his first interception, but he would soon get the Steelers their first lead of the game after another QB sneak into the end zone.

Pickett then orchestrated a 12-play, 87-yard drive that ended with his second rushing TD on the day to boost the Steelers’ lead. The former Pitt star QB was fearless in and out of the pocket, and showed a good rapport with rookie wideout George Pickens with a couple of nice back-shoulder throws.

The Steelers moved the ball well with Pickett at the helm, but rookie mistakes would soon rear its ugly head. Pickett’s second INT was a bad throw that aided a Jets fourth-quarter comeback with 3:42 left to play in the game. His third pick came on a desperate Hail Mary into the end zone down four points from the Jets’ 48-yard line.

At the end of the day, none of Pickett’s 13 pass attempts hit the turf. The 24-year-old completed 10 of those passes for 120 yards and the other three were caught by Jets defenders. Pickett added 15 yards rushing on six attempts with those two scores.

Trubisky was 7 of 13 for 84 yards and an interception in the first half Sunday. In three-plus games as the Steelers’ QB1, Trubisky had just two touchdown passes.

A 2017 first-round pick of the Chicago Bears, Trubisky was the team’s starter for the majority of four seasons there, the last two marked by the same rumblings of being replaced that he faced with the Steelers. After a 2021 season spent with the Bills as Josh Allen’s understudy, Trubisky signed a two-year pact with Pittsburgh. After the Steelers took Pittsburgh’s Pickett in the first round, it seemed inevitable that the homegrown product would take over as the franchise QB eventually.

Now it’s happened after four games and three straight losses. The Pickett era in Pittsburgh is underway.

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