Steelers QB Kenny Pickett out indefinitely after undergoing surgery for a high right ankle sprain

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett meets with reporters following an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. The Steelers won 16-10. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers will have to try and move on after a nightmarish loss to Arizona without quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Pickett is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a high right ankle sprain on Monday. Mitch Trubisky will get the start on Thursday night when Pittsburgh (7-5) hosts New England (2-10).


Tomlin declined to get into specifics on how many games Pickett might miss. Pickett had been “managing” the injury recently according to Tomlin only to have it aggravated in the second quarter on Sunday when Cardinals defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter fell on Pickett’s legs at the end of a 2-yard scramble.

The injury is to Pickett’s right ankle. He missed multiple games during his 2020 season at the University of Pittsburgh after having surgery on his left ankle.

Tomlin indicated the team doesn’t believe the current injury is “chronic” and is optimistic Pickett will return before the end of the regular season.

Sunday marked the sixth time since Pickett was moved to the starting job a month into the 2022 season that he’s lost playing time because of an injury, including three times this season alone.

Trubisky played in the fourth quarter of a loss to Houston on Oct. 1 after Pickett bruised his left knee. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft also took over against Jacksonville on Oct. 29 after Pickett left with a rib injury.

Trubisky completed 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals, the score coming on a 2-yard strike to Diontae Johnson after the game had been decided.

Tomlin pointed to Trubisky’s rapport with the starters as one of the reasons he will get the nod over Mason Rudolph, who is in his sixth season with the Steelers but has been the third-stringer since the middle of training camp in 2022.

“(Trubisky) has an outgoing and welcoming personality,” Tomlin said. “He’s a good communicator. He’s been a franchise quarterback before. He’s comfortable in those shoes. He doesn’t behave like a backup is being elevated. And I think those are things that make making him attractive.”

Trubisky’s previous start came last December when he helped guide the Steelers to a 24-16 victory over Carolina while Pickett was in the concussion protocol.

He’s been productive in spurts but also has issues taking care of the ball. Trubisky has thrown seven interceptions in 10 appearances with Pittsburgh. Pickett, by comparison, has just four picks in 12 games this season.

Whoever is behind center down the stretch will have to find a way to generate more points. Sunday’s loss marked the fifth time the Steelers have scored 10 points or fewer.

Despite the issues reaching the end zone, Pittsburgh finds itself in decent playoff position with five games remaining. The Steelers are currently the top wild-card spot in the AFC, but have little margin for error after letting the rebuilding Cardinals pull off one of the more stunning upsets by an opponent during Tomlin’s 17-year tenure.

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