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Kenny Pickett Nearing Steelers Return, Questionable This Week

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Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett warms up before his team's game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 3, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Quarterback Kenny Pickett had a strong day of rehabilitation on Monday, and could return to action for the Pittsburgh Steelers as soon as this Saturday, head coach Mike Tomlin said.

Pickett, who was reported over the weekend as pushing for a comeback this Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals, is less than two weeks out from surgery to repair and protect a high ankle sprain in his right ankle. 

Pickett had the same procedure done on his left ankle in 2020 while he was at Pitt, and he returned in three weeks from that procedure. This would be an even faster recovery.

“He had really good rehab today,” Tomlin said on Monday during his weekly press conference. “His availability is not out of question this week.”

Tomlin also announced that Mason Rudolph will replace Mitch Trubisky as Pickett’s backup this week, meaning that Rudolph is in line to make his first start since 2021 if Pickett cannot play.

As such, the focus of the offense in the early part of the week will be getting Rudolph ready, while Pickett gets in limited work.

“Our attention and emphasis will be on Mason Rudolph and we’ll leave the door ajar and see how Kenny responds to the work that he did today, the limited work that we’re probably going to give him tomorrow, and establishing the position in terms of a pecking order the closer that we get,” Tomlin said. “As I stand here today, Mason Rudolph is the guy with the ball.”

Pickett left the team’s Week 13 game against the Arizona Cardinals just before the half with the ankle injury, his third injury ailment of the season. He also missed a half against the Houston Texans with a knee injury and a half against the Jacksonville Jaguars with a rib injury.

In 12 games, Pickett has completed 201 of 324 games (62%) for 2,070 yards (5.29 ANY/Y), six touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Steelers are 7-2 when Pickett starts and finishes a game this season, 0-3 when he leaves a game in progress and 0-2 when Mitch Trubisky starts.

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