Tuesday Mike Tomlin stood in front of a throng of media, as he does every week, and talked about the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback situation. If you were like me, you didn’t expect him to go into any detail on the health status of Kenny Pickett, who left the Week 6 win vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a concussion.
Most were likely expecting something along the lines of this response from Tomlin, “Kenny is in the protocol, so we’ll monitor him and see how he progresses throughout the week.”
Nothing like keeping the opponent guessing and having to prepare for the potential of playing either Pickett or Mitch Trubisky.
Instead, Tomlin went into detail on where Pickett is in the protocol, and expectations for him as the team prepares for the Miami Dolphins this Sunday night in prime time.
“From an injury standpoint, Kenny Pickett is in the concussion protocol.” Tomlin said Tuesday. “It’s my understanding that his work won’t be limited in any way in preparation, and so we’ll adhere to the protocol, and we’ll follow that and let that be our guide in terms of participation.
“I’ll say this: If he’s cleared to play, he’ll play. He’ll play quarterback for us. In the meanwhile, man, we’ll ready ourselves. He’ll be a full participant is my understanding for tomorrow. So, we’ll have him and Mitch working at the quarterback position.”
At this juncture in the NFL, there is an increased focus on the game and head injuries. The team doesn’t have to look further than their upcoming opponent to see the example of what not to do as it pertains to concussions. Tomlin was asked about the NFL’s new protocols and if the Tua Tagovailoa situation might have the team resting Pickett to err on the side of caution.
“We feel extremely comfortable about our medical experts in that area, and I’ve been consistent in my messaging in that regards.” Tomlin responded. “This has no bearing on what’s been transpiring with the Joneses or other people around the National Football League. We just feel real good about our expertise. People from all over the world in football and other sport entities come to Pittsburgh to see our people. We’ll continue to lean on their expertise and follow their lead from a decision-making standpoint, and the things that are going on currently have little bearing on my mentality in that regard. I’ve just got that level of confidence in our people and what we do.”
In other words, Tomlin is going to trust what the medical experts the Steelers utilize to give him the proper information for the team to do what’s best for their rookie first round draft pick. In the meantime, will the team’s backups, Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, get more reps in practice this week?
“It just depends on what they’ve [Pickett] been cleared to do from a participation standpoint. Oftentimes, someone’s in the protocol and they’ve got complete clearance in terms of full participation, so you let them participate. Sometimes it’s limited, and you limit their participation. When it’s limited, obviously, it provides additional opportunities of reps for others. So, he’s been given full clearance from a participation standpoint relative to his position. He’ll take all of his reps tomorrow unless something changes.”
Ultimately, there is a very good chance the reason Tomlin was so outspoken when it came to him sticking with Pickett was to avoid any type of quarterback controversy. He understands Trubisky’s play in the 4th quarter could have people wondering if the team would to back to the offensive captain, even if both are healthy. The Steelers’ head coach made sure to nip that in the bud on Tuesday.
“There’s really just not a lot to talk about it.” Tomlin said when asked about sticking with Pickett as the team’s starting quarterback. “We’re not going to blow in the wind. We’re going to be somewhat steady. I’ve been consistent in my messaging regarding decision making in that position. I think it helps those that are playing. I think it helps the team in terms of who to follow. We’re not going to flip the script now.”
The clarity Tomlin provided in his Tuesday press conference certainly was unexpected, but also provided transparency as to why the team/organization were doing what they were doing when it comes to Pickett’s health, and the future of the position.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the first reported injury report of Week 7 and more news as the team prepares for Miami on Sunday Night Football.