Mike Tomlin held his first press conference on Tuesday. Here’s what the Steelers head coach had to say about injuries and the backup QB situation.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers released their first official depth chart of the 2022 season, fans were quick to notice that it was Mason Rudolph — not Kenny Pickett — who was listed as the team’s backup quarterback. Since then, the Steelers official website has printed a redaction, if you will, and Pickett is now listed as the QB2.
During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin had the chance to clear this up. Ultimately, he chalked up the QB pecking order in the Steelers depth chart as a ‘clerical error’ that has since been corrected. Tomlin was vocal that Pickett will be the backup quarterback and will be tacking all of the second-team reps this week in preparation for Pittsburgh’s Week 1 away game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
While he didn’t come out and say it, this probably means that Mason Rudolph will be a healthy scratch this week as he stands with a clipboard on the sidelines. The team apparently feels comfortable enough about Pickett to come into the game in a pinch if Trubisky were to go down.
Steelers injury update
In addition to clearing up the QB depth debacle, Tomlin also shed some light on injury news. As you may know, Alex Highsmith has been nursing a rib injury for a few weeks now, while Diontae Johnson was knocked out of action in the preseason finale against the Detroit Lions with a shoulder injury he suffered in the first quarter.
The good news is that Highsmith is back to practicing and should be ready to play this week against the Bengals. Though he has missed the past two preseason games and will need to get up to speed quickly, this is a great sign.
Sadly, Tomlin’s response to Diontae Johnson wasn’t as encouraging. During his presser, he basically said that they will let participation be their guide and told the media to watch for him on the injury report. Johnson could be seen without pads and not working in team drills at yesterday’s practice. This is not ideal.
On the depth chart, Johnson, Chase Claypool, and George Pickens are all listed as the starting wide receivers. Both Claypool and Pickens figure to see an uptick in usage if Johnson isn’t able to go. Between Gunner Olszewski, Miles Boykin, and Steven Sims, it remains to be seen who the biggest beneficiary would be if Diontae is unable to go.
As long as Diontae Johnson is able to participate by Saturday’s walkthrough, he should be good to go this weekend, but we don’t know much about the severity of his shoulder injury. As always, Mike Tomlin appears to be confident and ready to go for the start of the season.