Tomlin confirms Trubisky as QB1, Pickett backup

  • Previously covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star and Oklahoma University for the Oklahoman.

PITTSBURGH — Mitch Trubisky will start at quarterback for the Steelers in their Week 1 game at Cincinnati, coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday, confirming what’s long been the suspected outcome of the offseason quarterback competition.

Trubisky, who was voted one of the Steelers’ five captains on Monday, won the job over 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett and longtime backup Mason Rudolph.

“We’re just really comfortable with what Mitch has shown us,” Tomlin said. “He’s a guy that came to us with franchise quarterback experience. He’s comfortable in those shoes. He’s been the focal point of a football team, in the organization before. He’s had success in doing so. Like I mentioned, when we acquired him, he took the Bears to the playoffs two out of four years. He has a winning record as a starting quarterback. Those things were attractive to us.

“His athleticism and mobility were attractive to us. He took care of the football in-stadium, all our quarterbacks did.”

A veteran signed to a two-year, $14.2 million contract in free agency, Trubisky was the favorite in a three-man race entering training camp. A former No. 2 overall pick by the Chicago Bears in 2016, Trubisky arrived in Pittsburgh after a year as Josh Allen’s backup with the Buffalo Bills.

Pickett earned the primary backup job through growth that accelerated through the preseason games. Pickett completed 26 of 39 attempts for 261 yards and three touchdowns in three preseason appearances — including a 42-second drive before halftime of the win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“I thought his acceleration of development really took off once we stepped into stadiums,” Tomlin said. “And once we started stepping into stadiums, his decision-making — the fluidity of it — his competitive spirit, his pinpoint accuracy, all of those things I thought really came to the forefront. I thought that he grew — and grew at a really fast pace once we got into stadiums.

“And I also think it’s reasonable to expect that growth and development to continue as we push into the regular season.”

Tomlin said he didn’t anticipate dressing three quarterbacks on Sunday, making Trubisky and Pickett active and Rudolph inactive. Pickett will also take all the backup reps in practice this week.

A depth chart released 45 minutes before Tomlin’s news conference named Pickett the primary backup over Rudolph, correcting an error in a depth chart released Monday that listed Rudolph as the No. 2.

Tomlin explained the snafu as a “clerical error.”

“That’s how the depth chart was listed at the start of training camp,” Tomlin said. “So the cut and paste component was the cut and paste component. I know you were hoping for a little bit more colorful explanation, but it is what it is.”

Tomlin said the depth chart error didn’t require an additional explanation to his quarterbacks.

“They don’t need that,” he said. “We talked yesterday, they understood where we were. So I would imagine they viewed it as such.”

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