The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for their mandatory minicamp workouts this week, and then players will all leave to their respective corners of the country as they get their bodies and minds right for the start of training camp near the end of July.
Throughout Organized Team Activities (OTAs) the past two weeks, there have been some big talking points for the black and gold faithful. Obviously, the retirement of Stephon Tuitt last week rocked the boat, but everyone has been focusing on the quarterback position.
We all get it. This is the first time since 2004 when there has been an open competition at the most important position in all of professional sports. All eyes have been on Mason Rudolph as the only player with experience within the organization, Mitch Trubisky as the free agent acquisition and Kenny Pickett as the prized draft pick.
Throughout six workouts together, all the quarterbacks are saying all the right things. It’s like watching a cheesy television show where everyone always says and does the right thing, yet we all know deep down there are ulterior motives.
“There are no better guys to learn from than the guys that are here, that have done it,” Kenny Pickett said of his fellow quarterbacks. “I’m trying to learn. I am asking Mitch and Mason as many questions as I can. Chris (Oladokun) and I are attached at the hip really all day. We’re kind of going through it together and it’s been fun.”
Anyone who has worked a job with a new employee can probably understand what Trubisky and Rudolph are going through. A lot of questions about the formal, and informal, aspects of the job.
“It is little, small things,” said Pickett. “It’s not a formal sit down like ‘hey, can you give me all the secrets.’ More like what did you just see here? Why did you do this? All little things like that. We’re working together and everyone’s getting better. So, it’s good to get competition.”
Ah yes, competition. While the quarterbacks are competing with every pass thrown in front of coaches, the competition certainly hasn’t ramped up yet. But it will when training camp begins. Nonetheless, Pickett downplayed the competition, at least in this phase of the offseason.
“It’s just competing and trying to be as prepared as I can be,” said Pickett. “I am just enjoying it. I am learning and attacking each day. I think you guys make a bigger deal out of the competition than the players do. We compete every single day regardless. So, I’m just excited to be part of this team and compete.”
From Pickett’s perspective, everything is all well and good. The rookies are leaning on the veterans, and the veterans are doing their part to help them along. This is something Mason Rudolph knows all about, but as it pertains to not necessarily getting the warm welcome when he became a member of the Steelers.
“They’ve been good,” Rudolph said after OTAs last week. “I think their heads are spinning a little bit. But they’ve picked up things quickly. I remember being a rookie. You see that hunger in both of them wanting to learn, stay later, asking questions. Whenever they are asking Mitch or I, Coach (Mike) Sullivan. They are hungry to learn.”
Rudolph realizes while he is always there to lend a helping hand, he also has to view the other quarterbacks on the roster as competition.
“We’re all competitive,” said Rudolph. “Everyone’s probably been in those situations where you look around the league and you’re the starter. I look back at high school, college and pro and you have been in both boats. You understand the adversity there. If guys have got questions, I’m not going to shun anybody.”
This is all about the Steelers building the best team possible, and every player on the roster wants to win. Even when the competition heats up in late July at training camp, I don’t think any veteran would refuse to help a rookie. It just isn’t how the Steelers like to do business, but don’t think for a second these quarterbacks aren’t trying to be the man under center in 2022.
The Steelers have options at quarterback, and right now everything is calm on that front. But I’d expect things to intensify sooner, rather than later, when the real competition starts at Saint Vincent College and in the NFL Preseason.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for mandatory minicamp this week.