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Mitch Trubisky to start, Kenny Pickett moves to No. 2 on Steelers’ quarterback depth chart

Experience, mobility and decision-making were traits that led to the Pittsburgh Steelers signing Mitch Trubisky in free agency in March.

They are the reasons coach Mike Tomlin will go with Trubisky as the Steelers starting quarterback when the season kicks off Sunday in Cincinnati.

Tomlin confirmed Tuesday what has been known virtually since the start of offseason workouts and was revealed on his updated depth chart. Trubisky will get the first crack at replacing the retired Ben Roethlisberger under center.

“We’re just really comfortable with what Mitch has shown us,” Tomlin said at his weekly press conference. “He’s a guy who came to us with franchise quarterback experience, if you will. He’s comfortable in those shoes. He’s been the focal point of football team before. He’s had success in doing that before.”

The No. 2 overall pick of the Chicago Bears in 2017, Trubisky compiled a 29-21 record in 50 starts over four seasons, was named to the Pro Bowl after the 2018 season and started a pair of playoff games.

“Those things were attractive to us,” Tomlin said. “His athleticism and mobility were attractive to us. He took care of the football in stadium. All of our quarterbacks did, and I’d be put back if I didn’t say that.”

The trio of Trubisky, rookie Kenny Pickett and veteran backup Mason Rudolph performed well during the preseason. Pickett’s development accelerated to the point that he will be the No. 2 quarterback to start the season, with Rudolph serving as the No. 3 passer.

In a depth chart that was released Monday, Rudolph was listed second. The Steelers released an updated version Tuesday that listed Pickett second.

Tomlin said a “clerical error” was the reason for the incorrect information released Monday.

All three quarterbacks led scoring drives during a two-minute drill, and none threw an interception.

• Trubisky: 24-34 (70.6%), 283 yards, 2 TDs, 115.2 pass rating

• Pickett: 29-36 (80.6%), 261 yards, 3 TDs, 124.6 pass rating

• Rudolph: 26-39 (66.7%), 220 yards, 2 TDs, 98.2 pass rating

“It’s good to come to decision based on what people are doing rather than what people are not doing,” Tomlin said. “I thought all three of our quarterbacks represented themselves and us very well in the preseason.”


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Pickett ran the second-team offense in the second and third preseason games.

“I thought his acceleration of development took off once we stepped into stadiums,” Tomlin said. “His decision making, the fluidity of it, the competitive spirit, his pinpoint accuracy — all of those things really came to the forefront once we started coming into stadiums.

“I thought he grew and grew at a really fast pace once we got into stadiums. I think it’s reasonable for that growth to continue as we push into the regular season. We’re excited about where he is at this point and the ground that he’s covered and the ground that he will cover as we find our regular season rhythm.”

As for Rudolph, he was the presumptive starter entering the offseason but will open the season third on the depth chart for the first time since his rookie season in 2018.

“I’ve got so much respect for Mason Rudolph and his approach to this competition and how he has performed,” Tomlin said. “He didn’t beat an eye, he didn’t blink, he didn’t pout about reps or what groups he was running in. He just made plays, and he helped those around him be better and get better.”

Trubisky maintained the QB1 position throughout training camp and started all three of the team’s preseason games. Rudolph was listed on the second team in early August when the preseason depth chart was released, and Pickett was tabbed QB3.

Rudolph and Pickett rotated with the second and third teams for much of training camp. Rudolph was QB2 in the preseason opener, while Pickett was the second quarterback to play in the subsequent two preseason games.

Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at jrutter@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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