Steelers’ Kenny Pickett expected to start against Raiders, Mike Tomlin says

Concussions have sidelined rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett twice this season, but he is expected to be under center for the Steelers game on Saturday.

As of Monday, Pickett remained in the NFL concussion protocol.

But his head coach, Mike Tomlin, said Pickett would be able to fully participate in practice if the team held one on Monday.

“I think he’s got to check a box procedurally,” Tomlin said.

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett prepares to throw before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Monday, Nov.  28, 2022, in Indianapolis.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett prepares to throw before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Indianapolis.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Pickett suffered a head injury late in the first quarter of a loss to the Ravens in Week 14. He left the game briefly before returning for three more plays. Pickett was later removed from the game and was ruled out.

Tomlin said Pickett was evaluated during the game and was cleared to continue playing before he reentered the contest.

STEELERS’ MIKE TOMLIN OUTLINES HOW KENNY PICKETT’S CONCUSSION PLAYED OUT, SAYS QB ‘WAS CLEARED TO CONTINUE’

“After the first series, he was evaluated by the medical experts. He was cleared to continue. Even though we clear someone to continue, oftentimes they are continuously evaluated,” Tomlin told reporters during his media availability last Tuesday.

The Steelers are in the midst of a disappointing season but have managed to win three or their last four games. Veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who was the starter at the beginning of the season, stepped in for Pickett on Sunday.

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin talks with quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons on December 4th, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin talks with quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) during the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons on December 4th, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
(Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Trubisky completed 17 of 22 passes for 179 yards and scored a rushing touchdown in a win over the Panthers in Week 15.

“He did a really good job of taking care of the ball and playing within the game plan and planned approach that we have prescribed for that opponent,” Tomlin said. “He should be congratulated for that.”

STEELERS’ MASON RUDOLPH SEEMINGLY DISAGREES WITH MIKE TOMLIN’S CHARACTERIZATION OF QUARTERBACK SITUATION

Weather could play a role in Pickett’s possible comeback. Temperatures are expected to be in the single digits at kickoff with an estimated wind chill of minus-4 degrees. Pickett is accustomed to freezing temperatures because he played college football at Pittsburgh, in the same stadium that the Steelers play in.

“We’ll acknowledge that the weather could be significant on Saturday night and could play out in terms of how these two teams come together,” he said. “That’s life in the National Football League, and that’s specifically life in Pittsburgh, and so we won’t run from that. We’ll run to that. We got to be an all-weather group. I think everybody that lives here and plays here understands and embraces that.”

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) evades a tackle by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) during the first half of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct.  30, 2022, in Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) evades a tackle by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) during the first half of an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Philadelphia.
(AP Photo/Derick Hamilton)

Pickett was the only quarterback selected in the first round of this year’s draft. He has completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,797 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The 24-year-old rookie has also rushed for 225 yards with three touchdowns.

Tomlin also mentioned that Terrell Edmunds has a hamstring injury, Dionate Johnson has a turf toe issue and Derek Watt is dealing with an ankle injury.

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After the game against the Raiders, the Steelers (6-8) close out the season with games against AFC North opponents Ravens and the Browns.