PITTSBURGH — After being sidelined with his second concussion in eight weeks, Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett is expected to start against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday night. As of Monday afternoon, Pickett remained in the concussion protocol. But Tomlin said if the team practiced Monday, Pickett would be a full participant.
“I think he’s gotta check a box procedurally,” Tomlin said.
With Pickett sidelined Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Mitch Trubisky got the start and completed 17 of 22 passes for 179 yards, scoring a rushing touchdown.
“He did a really good job of taking care of the ball and playing within the game plan and planned approach that we have prescribed for that opponent,” Tomlin said. “He should be congratulated for that.”
Pickett will return in time for a frigid game — the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception — Saturday night, when temperatures are expected to be around 8 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill estimated to be minus-4. Pickett’s five years of collegiate experience at Pitt, though, will help prepare him for Saturday night’s weather.
“I think that’s an example that we often cite when we analyze people in draft prep,” Tomlin said. “Diontae [Johnson] played at Toledo; he’s from Tampa, but he played at Toledo in that Wednesday night MAC-tion. That probably got him a little prepared. All the offensive guys — usually there’s a discussion of some kind in draft analysis of that exposure or what that might look like or if it might be an issue for them. Oftentimes it’s not a significant decision-maker but a variable certainly.”
But, Tomlin admitted, the weather could be a challenge and affect the team’s game plan.
“We’ll acknowledge that the weather could be significant on Saturday night and could play out in terms of how these two teams come together,” he said. “That’s life in the National Football League, and that’s specifically life in Pittsburgh, and so we won’t run from that. We’ll run to that.
“We gotta be an all-weather group. I think everybody that lives here and plays here understands and embraces that.”