The Mandatory Veteran Minicamp the Steelers completed this week involved football-like activities, as opposed to the playing of actual football, so what was revealed should be interpreted as more enlightening than defining.
But the light illuminating the QBs was nonetheless revealing.
“I think ‘Coach’ (head coach Mike Tomlin) has been very clear that Mitch (Trubisky) is No. 1 and Mason (Rudolph) is No. 2 and Kenny (Pickett) is No. 3,” offensive coordinator Matt Canada confirmed at the outset of the three-day event on Tuesday.
Tomlin actually hadn’t said anything of substance to the media on the subject, and still hasn’t.
But the team has apparently been brought up to speed.
Perhaps that’s why offensive linemen Mason Cole and Kevin Dotson had seemed so comfortable confirming the pecking order at QB with media who otherwise wouldn’t have been permitted, per Steelers policy, to report on the rotation back on the first day of OTAs.
There will still be a competition to stage once the Steelers get together again in late July at St. Vincent College.
But that is destined to be contested on the Steelers’ terms, which means it’ll be Tomlin’s call and it’ll be made at Tomlin’s discretion.
“We’ve gotta find a way to get to who the starting quarterback is gonna be but we’re also very focused on giving everybody a fair shot to do it,” Canada continued. “And fair is not always equal, we all understand that.”
In other words, it’s Trubisky’s job to lose.
As it should be given that the first regular-season game will take place on Sept. 11 at Cincinnati, and that three of those are scheduled to be played in a span of 12 days through the Steelers’ Sept. 22 visit to Cleveland.
Trubisky even earned an unintentional endorsement from rookie wide receiver George Pickens, who had this to say about a deep ball he caught that Trubisky had launched:
“He’s been one of the quarterbacks to release it for sure, going downfield,” the No. 2 pick observed. “A lot of other guys have been trying to get with the program, which is totally fine. “Yeah, he’s been launching it for sure.”
Interpretation: The other quarterbacks have been playing it by the numbers, distributing the ball where it’s supposed to go on a play-by-play basis. Trubisky has been looking to take his shots down the field whenever they might arise, as a quarterback who is confident in his abilities and secure in his standing more naturally would.
Pickett, presumably, was selected 20th overall for a reason.
And he impressed rookies and veterans alike in the spring sessions, his first as a professional.
None of it seemed too big for Pickett, who came off as genuinely humble and charismatic, as did Trubisky.
Here’s hoping Pickett emerges from training camp as the backup, which should keep him as involved as possible, keep the practice reps coming at as reasonable a rate as can be expected and keep the preparation at a one-snap-away level of urgency.
All of the above must still be confirmed by the playing of actual football at St. Vincent and in the preseason.
But it’s looking like we’ll be in for more of a Trubisky coronation than a three-way competition in Latrobe, at the very least a temporary ascension to the throne