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Steelers QB Notebook: Kenny Pickett Ready to Move Up Depth Chart

The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie showed exactly why he was a first-round pick.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' 2022 campaign started with a bang. All three of their quarterbacks worked the field and found the endzone, but only their rookie set the stage on fire with his last-second touchdown throw. 

The Steelers walked out of their first game at the newly-named Acrisure Stadium with a 32-25 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Mitch Trubisky took the field with the starters, and quickly got Pittsburgh in the endzone with a touchdown to Gunner Olszewki on the opening drive. 

Mason Rudolph took on the second quarter, sending the Steelers into halftime with a 17-10 lead following his touchdown pass to George Pickens. 

And finally, Kenny Pickett played the entire second half, fighting with Drew Lock and the Seahawks down to the last second. The first-round pick found himself tied with 1:10 left on the clock only to drive 43 yards and find Tyler Vaughns for a game-winning touchdown with four seconds remaining.

Statbook

Mitch Trubisky: 4/7, 63 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 rush, 4 yards

Mason Rudolph: 9/15, 93 yards, 1 touchdown

Kenny Pickett: 13/15, 95 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 rushes, 17 yards

Quotes

Kenny Pickett on First Game

"It was a special moment. I haven't been to a Steelers game ever in my lie, this is my first one and I was playing in it. Been here five years, going on six now. To have that be my first experience with a lot of my family members here with me, my old coach [Pat] Narduzzi was there for a little bit. ... It was special."

Pickett on Game-Winning Touchdown

"I liked the matchup, I liked the look we had. Free access. I was just thinking get [Tyler Vaughns] the ball and get out of bounds, and get [Nick Sciba] a chance to put it up for the win. Give it up to Tyler, he's a great player. Gave him a chance; he made a move and scored."

Mitch Trubisky on First Drive With Steelers

"It was awesome. I was excited all day. I was waiting all day for the opportunity. Had to wait all around for the night game. I was just amped up, ready to go, and wanted to lead the team right down the field and score right away, and it was a good way to start the game and set the tone. We finished strong as a group, so it was a fun game to be a part of, and it was awesome."

Steven Sims on Kenny Pickett's Opening Drive

"He was rolling on that drive. I helped him out a little bit with that jet sweep. He got his feet wet with the little out route and a little in the flat and he went from there. Kenny looked real comfortable in the pocket, real comfortable today. We're going to see big things from him."

Jaylen Warren on Pickett's Leadership

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"I liked his leadership when he stepped in. You'd think he's been in the league for like five years."

"Kenny is a playmaker so it wasn't even a surprise to us on this side when he was doing all that. We see it all the time in practice. To see it come alive in a game setting, it was cool to see."

Analysis

All three of the Steelers' quarterbacks put their best foot forward in the preseason opener, but Pickett clearly came out on top. However, this doesn't change the pecking order heading into the final week of training camp. 

The only change we should imagine this week is Pickett taking more second-team reps ahead of Rudolph. Trubisky didn't play himself out of the starting role, and in fact, might have embedded himself more as the solidified starter for Week 1.  

Going 4/7 for 63 yards and a touchdown on limited snaps is exactly what Trubisky needed to do. He showed he's capable of leading successful drives, escaping the pocket when needed, and keeping his composure with a new offense around him. 

Rudolph started hot but slowed down. His opening drive finished with a beautiful pass to Pickens in the back of the endzone, but afterward, nothing seemed to click the same. 

Pickett's performance should be enough to land him a promotion at camp this week. The crowd loved him, which wouldn't be saying much if they didn't boo Rudolph after he fumbled on his first play. With Steven Sims and Jaylen Warren talking about how much of a veteran presence he already is, the Steelers should be ready to see what the rookie can do with a full workload at the two. 

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