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Source: Kenny Pickett Backed Down from Back-Up Role vs. Seahawks

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Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
Steelers QB Kenny Pickett against the Buffalo Bills, Aug. 19, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett did not want to dress as the team’s third quarterback against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, a source confirmed to Steelers Now, and that was at least part of the reason he was scratched for the game despite being medically cleared.

Pickett did not practice much leading up to the game and was only cleared to play later in the week. Pickett has been rehabbing after undergoing surgery on his right ankle to repair a high ankle sprain early in December.

At that time, head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff decided, based on the amounts of reps available to all three players throughout the week, that Mason Rudolph would start and Mitch Trubisky would be the backup.

Once that final decision was made, Pickett made it clear to the team that he didn’t want to be dressed on game day, a source confirmed. Mark Madden of 105.9 The X first reported that Pickett did not want to be dressed.

The Steelers did not have a player designated as an emergency quarterback on Sunday. If Rudolph and Trubisky both became injured or otherwise unable to continue, the Steelers would have had to use a player from another position at quarterback.

There is no upside for the team to not having an emergency quarterback. They cannot use that spot on any other position.

It’s not clear exactly why Pickett didn’t want to dress. He said on Wednesday after practice that he wanted to play, but it was not up to him. Pickett has been a limited practice participant since Dec. 18.

“I feel like I could [play this week],” Pickett said. “I always try to push myself. It’s the trainers. It’s the coaches. It’s what they see me moving and how they want to go about it.”

Tomlin said on Monday that Pickett was healthy to play but that he made the decision due to a lack of reps in practice throughout the week.

“That clarity didn’t come until later in the week,” Tomlin said. “And it was about the distribution of reps and who was best prepared and positioned to help us win. And so that’s the direction that we went with.”

Pickett was with the team on Sunday, taking part in on-field warmups alongside Rudolph and Trubisky, and was seen interacting with teammates after the game.

Rudolph will start against the Ravens. The identity of his backup has not been announced. Tomlin declined to say who might start in the postseason or glean into any offseason speculation.

Nick Farabaugh and Alan Saunders contributed to the reporting