UNITY TWP., Pa. — When parsing the impact of training camp throws, interceptions often stand out in a negative way for quarterbacks, but Steelers’ starter Mitch Trubisky isn’t shying away from taking chances with the football.
Trubisky said on Thursday that he wants to use practice time to push the envelope to see what he and his receivers are capable, even if it means that the defense gets its hands on some of them.
“In practice, I try to be more aggressive, just because that’s the time where you’re able to test throws and I think sometimes you could, you could check it down and find completions all day but you’re not really going to know what you’re capable of or what the receivers are capable of unless you’re testing some throws in practice,” Trubisky said.
“You might miss some times or throw a pick here and there in practice, but that’s what it’s for. You’ve got to see what you’re capable of and what the offensive guys around you are capable of. For example, like throwing a 50/50 ball up to a guy who we know is a potential jump ball guy, if I don’t give him that opportunity, how can he show that he can go up and make collision catches and attack the ball at the point of attack. So, I think it’s important to take those chances.”
That’s a perfectly reasonable mindset for a starting quarterback to have, and in fact, longtime Steelers starter Ben Roethlisberger made it a point to throw bad passes at times in practice, just to see how the receivers handled it if he happened to miss his mark. Those awkward practice passes gave Roethlisberger the confidence he needed to lean on a particular receiver in a tough spot in a game.
But things are different when, as Trubisky is, a quarterback is in competition for his job. Throwing more interceptions that the others (Trubisky has thrown more than second-teamer Mason Rudolph this summer) could be seen as a big negative toward earning a job.
“You also have to take into consideration that you’re in a competition,” Trubisky said. “You want it to look clean and good out there. It’s it’s nice to find completions and move the offense forward. But I think you’ve just got to toe the line of like when to be aggressive and want to take care of the football.”
Kenny Pickett’s NFL preseason debut last Saturday is an example of efficient, but safe quarterbacking. Pickett completed 13 of his 15 pass attempts, but the longest of them went for 11 yards. That might work for a rookie in his first live action, but the demands of an NFL offense are that a quarterback is regularly able to complete passes with a higher degree of difficulty. That’s what Trubisky is hoping he’s been able to show.
“At the end of the day, it is practice, but we want to make sure we’re coming away with good results,” he said.