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Kenny Pickett Denies Refusing to Be Steelers Backup



Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett in a game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 3, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett, speaking to the media before practice on Tuesday, refuted reports that he refused to be the team’s backup quarterback against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Pickett addressed the reporting in a statement before taking questions from the media.

“I saw reports out there that were attacking who I am as a person, not even getting into the player standpoint of it. 

“There was not talk of me being a backup quarterback this week in terms of me being a two. If I was healthy enough to play, and if the trainers and coaches felt that if I looked good enough to play, then I was going to start and play. If they believed that I was not, and they believed that I was not, I was not going to suit up for the game.

“So whoever reported that, I don’t know where it started, it’s kinda crazy what people will write and put out there to try to prove their point or help their standpoint or their careers and what you guys do. Disappointed to see that without any proof or basis of it.

“This week, I am now the two. They feel good, four weeks out from the surgery, for me to dress and be the two. So I will be the two. I’ll do that and be ready to go for Baltimore.”

Steelers Now reported on Monday that Pickett was not in consideration to be the starter or primary backup for the game by the time he was medically cleared late in the week. SN reported that Pickett chose not to participate as the emergency, third quarterback.

RELATED: Kenny Pickett Backed Down from Back Up Role vs Seahawks

Pickett said the plan coming into the week was that if he was healthy enough to play, he would start, and that if he was not healthy enough to play, he was not going to dress.

“I was going to start and play, or if they didn’t think I was good enough to do that, healthy enough, I was going to be the three,” Pickett said.

But head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed multiple reports on Monday that Pickett was medically cleared to play before the game, and Pickett did not end up being the No. 3. He ended up inactive, with the Steelers only having two quarterbacks available to them against the Seahawks.

There is no tactical team advantage to not dressing Pickett. The team cannot replace the emergency third quarterback with another player. Pickett hinted that the reason he was not dressed was a lack of enthusiasm for playing at a status that, while medically cleared, was less than 100%.

“Guys at this level, you can do things to get you through games,” Pickett said. “There’s a process of getting through games where your health is not ideal. There’s things you can do, so if that needed to be the case, I could do those things. The trainers and the coaches didn’t see a point in me doing that if I was not starting.”

Two days later, Pickett is now confident that he will be healthy enough to dress and be the backup against the Baltimore Ravens.

“Percentage wise, I don’t know,” he said. “I’m good enough to play, if need be.”