Pittsburgh Steelers winced when Kenny Pickett was driven into the field last week after delivering the football. The second-year quarterback grimaced in pain as the training staff circled him. Pickett entered the tunnel just before halftime in Week 8 against the Jaguars and looked like he was going to return to the field in the second half. However, the team quickly ruled him out for the remainder of the game with a rib injury.
The Steelers couldn't mount a comeback with Mitch Trubisky at the helm, and the backup quarterback struggled in the second half against Jacksonville. Now fans were anxious to see whether or not Pickett would be ready to on a short week. Pittsburgh will host their second straight home game -- this time on Thursday Night Football against the Tennessee Titans.
Rib injury and all, Pickett confirmed to the media on Tuesday that he will be ready to go. The former first-round pick insisted that he is 'playing for sure' in Week 9, via ESPN's Brooke Pryor.
Admittedly, the results simply have not been there for Kenny Pickett this year. While Pittsburgh does sit on a 4-3 record entering Week 9, much of this has to do with the big plays made in clutch moments by the defense.
Offensively, things have been downright bad for most of the season. The Steelers are 31st in the NFL in yards per game while managing to score just 16.1 points per contest. Though some fans are ready to call it quits on Pickett and roll with Trubisky or even Mason Rudolph, this decision would prove to be unwise.
Steelers need to play Kenny Pickett (and he needs to play well)
What we all need to see is for Kenny Pickett to stay on the field and stay healthy. We obviously need to see big improvements from the young quarterback, and that won't happen if he's watching with a clipboard from the sidelines.
Pickett might not be the long-term answer for the Steelers, and frankly, I have a hard time believing that he will be the guy to lead them back to another Super Bowl. But Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff need to discover that for themselves. If he stays on the field the rest of the year and plays poorly, at least they would have an idea that they might need to think about moving on.
The hope is that Pickett will be healthy enough this week to have a bounce-back game. Prior to his departure just before halftime, the second-year quarterback managed just 4.6 yards per attempt against the Jaguars on Sunday.
This week, Pickett will be going toe-to-toe with Titans rookie QB Will Levis. The former second-round pick was the talk of the NFL this week after putting up 4 passing touchdowns in his first NFL start. In comparison, Pickett has now played 20 games in the NFL and has never earned more than 2 passing scores in a game -- accomplishing this just once.
It's time for Kenny Pickett to step up to the plate and prove doubters wrong. If he gets shown up by Will Levis on Thursday Night Football, Steelers fans will be calling for change. Let's hope he's up to the challenge.