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Kenny Pickett Still Limited, Mason Rudolph Set to Make 2nd Start



Steelers QB Mason Rudolph
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph against the Cincinnati Bengals, Dec. 23, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph had a breakout performance in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 34-11 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, and he will prepare to start against the Seahawks once again. Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that Kenny Pickett is in the same position as he was last week.

That means, Rudolph will take the gluttony of the reps in practice while the team sees where Pickett’s mobility and health takes them.

“I’m not into hypotheticals,” Tomlin said. “Mason Rudolph has the ball as we stand here today.”

Rudolph was the Steelers’ last gasp option to save the season after the team lost three consecutive games following an injury to starter Kenny Pickett against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2.

Rudolph pulled through and then some. He threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns for a 124 passer rating — easily the best Steelers passing performance of the season, and the best for any Steelers quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger had a 155 rating back in 2018.

Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett on the sideline, out with an ankle injury during his team’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 23, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Tomlin was appreciative of his quarterback’s efforts, but said it’s too soon to say who will start next week when the Steelers visit the Seattle Seahawks.

Pickett returned to practice last week in a limited capacity, but could not get healthy enough to play in the game. It could be that way again this week, as he is still coming off major ankle surgery just three weeks ago. So, it is not clear if the Steelers are benching Pickett in favor of Rudolph or if Pickett would play if healthy.

But he didn’t seem far off from returning from the high ankle sprain in his right ankle that required surgery. Tomlin didn’t rule Pickett out from playing on Saturday until after practice Thursday, so it’s reasonable to think that he might be healthy enough to play this week.

That would give the Steelers brass the quite the decision to make after Rudolph bested Picket’s career-best performance against Cincinnati. And we do not know what would happen in that scenario.