Steelers' Mitchell Trubisky to Start vs. Panthers; Kenny Pickett Out with Concussion

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 17, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 16:  Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Acrisure Stadium on October 16, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly expected to start Mitch Trubisky at quarterback in Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Saturday that Steelers rookie starting quarterback Kenny Pickett was still in concussion protocol and doubtful for Sunday's game, necessitating the move to Trubisky. ESPN's Brooke Pryor later followed up with news that the Steelers had officially ruled Pickett out for the game.

Trubisky and Mason Rudolph reportedly split first-team snaps at practice this week, but rather than Rudolph getting his first start of the season, Trubisky is in line to earn his fifth.

After Pickett was knocked out of last week's game against the Baltimore Ravens with a concussion, Trubisky completed 22 of his 30 passes for 276 yards, which was his highest yardage total in a game this season.

He threw only one touchdown compared to three interceptions, however, playing a role in Pittsburgh's 16-14 loss.

Trubisky, who spent four seasons with the Chicago Bears and one as Josh Allen's backup with the Buffalo Bills, signed a two-year, $14.3 million deal with the Steelers during the offseason.

Pittsburgh later selected Pickett with the No. 20 pick in the 2022 draft, and the hope was Trubisky would bridge the gap until Pickett was ready.

Instead, Trubisky struggled out of the gates, going 1-3 as a starter over the first four weeks of the season before losing the starting job to Pickett.

In four starts and six appearances this season, Trubisky has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 1,073 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions.

Trubisky was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft, and while he led the Bears to the playoffs in 2018 and 2020, he hasn't come close to living up to expectations.

While the 24-year-old Pickett is younger and potentially has a bright future, he hasn't been much better by comparison.

Pickett is 4-5 as a starter and has completed 65.0 percent of his passes for 1,797 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has done far more damage with his legs, though, rushing for 225 yards and three scores.

The Steelers are just 5-8, and they likely need to win out to have even the slightest chance of reaching the playoffs for a third consecutive year.

Given that the Steelers have no margin for error, head coach Mike Tomlin may have a quick hook on Trubisky in favor of Rudolph against Carolina.