PITTSBURGH — The Steelers could be without Kenny Pickett against the Seahawks. He is listed as questionable with his ankle injury and is yet to be 100 percent, with Mason Rudolph getting the starting gig after taking first-team reps throughout the entire week.
Rudolph made his first start since 2021 in the team’s 34-11 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16, and put up the best statistical performance for a Steelers quarterback since 2018 in doing so.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday that Rudolph was in line to start, but also said that the team would take things day by day with starting quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Pickett suffered a high ankle sprain in his right ankle on Dec. 2 that required surgery and has been out since. There had been hope that he might return as soon as last Saturday, but he still has yet to be a full participant in practice. If he is active, it seems like a less than 100 percent version of Pickett would back up Rudolph.
Pickett is still battling that injury, and without any team reps to go along with it, it leaves him in a vulnerable spot. But if he is at least healthy enough to be functional, it may be worth making him active as the backup to Rudolph. But that all depends on the medical staff and where they see his progress going.
Rudolph’s performance against the Bengals gave the Steelers the confidence to wait until Pickett gets fully healthy to make a return, Tomlin said on Tuesday.
“I think the highlight, obviously was the play of Mason Rudolph, but I don’t think anything happened in game from his quality of play or mindset that we didn’t talk about in here a week ago,” Tomlin said. “The things that made him an attractive candidate under the circumstances. We talked about him having a great deal of belief in himself and being aggressive in mentality and play. And those things were confirmed in game.”
Rudolph finished the game against the Bengals with 290 yards on 17 of 27 passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 124 passer rating was a career high and the highest for a Steelers quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger in 2018.