Kenny Pickett won't be back anytime soon, but there's optimism that he has not taken his last snap during the regular season. The Steelers anticipate that their quarterback will be out for a month, according to ESPN. If that timeline is accurate, Pickett would be back in time to face the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh's final game of the regular season. Pickett is 2-0 in his young career against the Ravens.
Pickett has already been ruled out of Thursday night's game against the 2-10 Patriots. Given the report, Pickett is also expected to miss the team's Dec. 16 matchup in Indianapolis against the 7-5 Colts, who are also fighting for a playoff spot in the crazy competitive AFC. The Steelers will then return home to face the still-alive 6-6 Bengals on Dec. 23 before traveling to Seattle to take on the 6-6 Seahawks on New Year's Eve.
It's not exactly murderer's row, but given the fact that they just lost to a previously two-win Cardinals team, it's safe to say none of the Steelers' upcoming games are layups. Given their current position, Pittsburgh (7-5) will need to at least split its next four games to be in position to secure a playoff spot entering its Week 18 showdown in Baltimore.
With Pickett out, Mitch Trubisky reprises his role as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback. Trubisky, a Pro Bowler during his second season in Chicago, went 2-3 as the Steelers' starting quarterback last season. Fortunately for the Steelers, two of those starts were against teams Pittsburgh will face over the next month in New England and Cincinnati. Trubisky and Co. defeated the Bengals last season but lost a defensive battle against the Patriots one week later.
Trubisky faced criticism for his conservative approach during Pittsburgh's 17-14 loss to New England. Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Trubisky stressed that he wants to be aggressive while also making sure he takes care of the ball.
"There always is a fine line," Trubisky said when asked about finding that balance. "I think you can ask any quarterback that. You want to be aggressive, but if you're too safe with the football, you're not going to move it. So, you got to know what you can do, and you always got to take care of football at the end of the day. But sometimes you just got to believe in yourself that you can make the throws to move the ball down the field and score points. So, there's a fine line always."
Fortunately for Trubisky, he has the support of a running game that has come alive over the past five weeks. Over that span, Pittsburgh's rushing attack has averaged 165.2 yards per game. The majority of those yards were gained by Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, who have an outside shot at becoming only the third pair of teammates to both rush for over 1,000 yards in the same season.
As far as Pickett is concerned, the former first-round pick's injury comes at an unfortunate time. Fresh off of arguably the best game of his career, Pickett was on the verge of leading the Steelers to a touchdown this past Sunday before exiting the game with an injury. Pickett's injury has opened the door for fans and media members alike to openly question whether the Steelers should pursue a quarterback this offseason.
"I'm comfortable with our ability to prepare and win this football game," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week when asked about his competence level regarding his quarterback position moving forward. "I kind of live one week at a time."