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Steelers not optimistic for QB Kenny Pickett’s availability in Week 9, per report

Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands for the national anthem before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium on October 29, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Jaguars beat the Steelers 20-10. Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on a short turnaround heading into Week 9, set to host the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. It’s unfortunate timing to be on a short week, too, as starting quarterback Kenny Pickett suffered a rib injury Sunday that will put his status in jeopardy for the primetime contest.

Though the team isn’t speaking in guarantees this early on, the sentiment is that there is not a lot of optimism for Pickett’s availability to play in Week 9, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Monday morning.

Oftentimes, rib injuries can be a matter of pain tolerance, and though Pickett has made it clear that he’s tough, having quickly rebounded from what looked like a potential season-ending knee injury, it’s probably not ideal to send him into the fire with some of the liabilities on the offensive line. Pickett has taken 16 sacks so far this season — tied for 11th-most among quarterbacks — despite having played just over five complete games taking into consideration the two games he left early due to injuries.

If Pickett misses, it’s likely that backup Mitch Trubisky would get the start, but it wouldn’t be crazy to consider a look at third-string veteran Mason Rudolph based on Trubisky’s second-half performance in Week 8. Rudolph has started 10 games in his career with the Steelers, going 5-4-1, interestingly having thrown four more passing touchdowns and one fewer interception than Pickett over the course of 10 starts than Pickett has over 19. Of course, Rudolph doesn’t have the clutch gene... but still. It’s an interesting stat to note nonetheless.

Coming off the bench in Week 8, Trubisky completed 15 of 27 pass attempts for 138 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, though one of them did come on a Hail Mary to close out the game.