PITTSBURGH — Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin attributed the change in the Steelers depth chart from Mason Rudolph to Kenny Pickett as the second-team quarterback to a clerical error in his Week 1 press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
Rudolph was initially listed as the backup when the depth chart was first released on Monday afternoon, but that was corrected with an updated release on Tuesday morning before Tomlin spoke.
“It was a clerical error,” Tomlin said. “That’s how the depth chart was listed at the start of training camp, so the cut and paste component was the cut and paste component. I know you were hoping for a little bit more colorful explanation, but it is what is. That’s what happened.”
Tomlin said that the team will continue to dress only two quarterbacks for games, meaning that Pickett will serve as Mitch Trubisky’s backup in Cincinnati on Sunday, and Rudolph will likely be scratched. Pickett will also take the second-team reps at practice this week, while Rudolph will run the scout team.
That’s the reverse order of how those two started the preseason on the depth chart, but Tomlin said that Pickett’s in-game work was a separator.
“Really pleased with the growth and development of Kenny,” Tomlin said. “I thought the acceleration of his development really took off once we started coming into stadiums. I thought that he grew and grew at a really fast pace once we got into stadiums.”
While the team’s first-round pick being a backup isn’t the usual scenario entering the season, Tomlin said that’s not reflective of a lack of confidence in Pickett’s ability or a disappointment in his level of growth.
“I also think it’s reasonable for that growth and development to continue as we push into the regular season,” Tomlin said. “We’re excited about where he is, the ground he’s covered to this point and the ground that he’s going to continue to cover as we find our regular season rhythm.”
Tomlin also credited the professionalism of Rudolph, who will now see an even further reduced role with Pickett with the second team.
“I’ve got so much respect for Mason Rudolph,” Tomlin said. “He didn’t blink. He didn’t pout about reps or what groups he was running in. He just made plays.”