Mike Tomlin finally made official Tuesday what has been expected for weeks, if not months: Mitch Trubisky will open the season in Cincinnati as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, replacing Ben Roethlisberger.
The announcement, which came at Tomlin’s weekly press conference, is hardly a surprise. Trubisky has taken nearly every snap with the first-team offense since the first day of spring practice and started all three preseason games.
Tomlin, though, had refused to publicly anoint Trubisky as the starter, despite all the obvious evidence, until now.
“Mitch is our starting quarterback and captain, and we’re really comfortable with what Mitch has shown us,” Tomlin said. “He came to us with franchise-quarterback experience. He’s been the focal point of a team before, and he’s had success in doing so.
“He’s comfortable in those shoes. He’s worn them before.”
Perhaps more significantly, Tomlin said rookie Kenny Pickett will serve as the No. 2 quarterback against the Bengals and take the second-team reps in practice. Mason Rudolph was listed as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart that was released Monday, but the Steelers issued a new depth chart Tuesday morning that listed Pickett as No. 2 and Rudolph No. 3.
Tomlin said Rudolph, a five-year veteran, will not dress for the Bengals, a demotion for a five-year veteran who has spent the majority of his career as Roethlisberger’s top backup
“I’m really pleased with the growth and development of Kenny; that’s why he’s listed as No. 2,” Tomlin said. “His growth really took off once we stepped into stadiums. His fluidity, his competitive spirit, his pinpoint accuracy really came to the forefront once we got into stadiums. It’s reasonable to expect that growth and development to continue as we get into the regular season.”
In his only appearance against the Bengals when he was with the Chicago Bears, Trubisky completed 25 of 32 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown with a passer rating of 112.4 in a 33-7 victory in 2017.