Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is out Saturday against the Bengals, according to coach Mike Tomlin, who officially named Mason Rudolph as the starter.
Pickett, who underwent “TightRope” surgery on his right ankle less than three weeks ago, returned to practice this week and was a limited participant each day.
Tomlin said Monday that the door was “ajar” for Pickett to play against Cincinnati, but he ultimately ruled out the second-year quarterback immediately after Thursday’s practice.
Rudolph, who has not started a game since the 2021 season, said Tuesday that his teammates were “excited for me” and added that he was excited to “put my hand in the pile and go fight for a victory.”
Tomlin also announced that Mitch Trubisky, who started each of Pittsburgh’s past two games in place of the injured Pickett, would serve as Rudolph’s backup Saturday against Cincinnati.
Rudolph last started in Week 10 of the 2021 season against the Lions, when he passed for 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a 16-16 tie. He has seen game action just twice since then — once in garbage time of a Week 16 loss to the Chiefs in 2021, and then against the Colts last week, when he played six snaps at the end of the game.
Tomlin said Monday that he made the move to Rudolph in an effort to spark the offense to score more points as the team fights to make the playoffs in a crowded AFC wild-card race.
The Steelers (7-7) are mired in a three-game losing streak but can bolster their postseason chances with a victory Saturday over the Bengals (8-6), who lost the first meeting between these division rivals last month in Cincinnati.