PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is on his way to recovering from surgery on his right ankle, but he has a long road to go to get back on the field before the end of the 2023 season.
Pickett was seen wearing a walking boot over his surgically repaired right ankle, where he suffered a high ankle sprain on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, both after the Steelers’ Thursday Night Football loss to the New England Patriots at Acrisure Stadium and again at the Steelers’ UPMC Rooney Football Complex on the South Side on Friday.
In addition to the boot, Pickett is getting around on a four-wheeled scooter, to keep his weight and pressure off the ankle. That meant that during Thursday’s game against the Patriots, Pickett was in the booth, not with his teammates along the sideline.
That drew some media attention, after the Amazon Prime Video cameras caught Pickett in the booth with a headset instead of on the field.
Where's the post questioning Kenny Pickett's leadership?
— Nick Karns (@karnsies817) December 8, 2023
The reason for that is that the Steelers have a team rule that prevents players that need crutches or any other type of mobility aid from being on the sideline. Their inability to quickly get out of the way if players come onto the sideline from the field could present a danger to themselves and others.
You only have to point to the situation with Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith earlier this year, when Smith was hit by a player after a late hit out of bounds and then trapped under the pile when he couldn’t get up.
Smith needs surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Can you imagine if something like that had happened to the Steelers starting quarterback? When Pickett is cleared to get around without his cart, he may return to the sideline — or he might not.
One of the biggest hangups with Pickett’s game this year has been his ability to read the field and pick apart defenses. Maybe he’ll learn something from watching some games in the booth that he’s not seeing at field level.