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Kenny Pickett named Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Pittsburgh Steelers own a 1-3 record following a 24-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. Things could get even tougher for the black-and-gold as they prepare for a daunting stretch of games against the likes of the Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, and others.

Following reports that the team would promote the rookie, the Steelers confirmed that quarterback Kenny Pickett will be the team's starting signal-caller moving forward.

Head coach Mike Tomlin began his weekly presser with a recap of last week's performance against the Jets that elicited a tone of disappointment and frustration, particularly because the Steelers held a 10-point lead over New York at times.

"There's a fine line between winning and losing. I thought penalties were a component of play. I thought some of our drives were slowed down by penalties. Our inability to get off on possession downs in the fourth quarter was significant," Tomlin said.

Tomlin then spoke on the quarterback change.

"We made a change in-game and Kenny will start this week," Tomlin added. "We made the change, obviously, Mitch's performance was a component of the decision, but not the only component," Tomlin stressed.

"Oftentimes, the quarterback position gets too much credit, too much blame, we haven't moved the ball fluidly enough for our liking," said Tomlin. "We've all got to absorb the responsibility with what we haven't done in that phase."

"I don't want to dump the responsibility of what transpired at Mitch's feet. That's not fair to him, he's played better than that description. But we haven't. In an effort to score more points and move the ball more fluidly, we decided to go to Kenny in the hope that he will provide a spark for us," Tomlin said of his two quarterbacks.

"Our business is winning and we're about our business," the coach said. "We have no reservations about what Kenny is capable of in terms of our schematics." 

"Kenny has shown us maturity at every point throughout this process, he's older than most rookies. The things that we valued in him are why we took him when we were given the opportunity to do so," Tomlin added.

Tomlin spoke highly of Pickett's mobility, his vision of the field, poise, and maturity as a quarterback.

Mitch Trubisky will be Pickett's backup, per Tomlin. "[Mitch] is a hard and diligent worker," Tomlin said. "I appreciate the professionalism all our quarterbacks have displayed."

On whether or not the offensive scheme will change with Pickett under center: "That'll be told over the course of this upcoming week with how we play, from a personality standpoint, and the things and concepts we choose to highlight in-stadium."

"When we make decisions, we don't anticipate blowing in the wind. We're optimistic and thoughtful in our thought process" to maintain Pickett as the starting quarterback, per Tomlin.

Pickett is "football sharp" and "mature beyond his years," Tomlin said of the 24-year-old rookie. "We're not grading him on a curve and he's not grading himself on a curve."

Shifting his focus to Pickett's opposition, the Buffalo Bills, Tomlin was quick to praise quarterback Josh Allen's strong arm and mobility.

"He's an elite passer, he's an elite runner and creator."

Wideout Stefon Diggs will be a threat to the Steelers' defense as well.

On the defensive side of the ball, the first player Tomlin mentioned was veteran edge rusher, Von Miller. Miller is like an "alien visiting from another planet," Tomlin said. But Miller encourages and trains others to play like him, Tomlin said.

"Linebackers [Matt] Milano and [Tremaine] Edmunds are all-situations players." The Bills own a veteran secondary, which could pose problems for a young quarterback and offensive unit.

On the injury front, Tomlin noted that a few key players may miss Sunday's contest in Buffalo.

"Witherspoon, you should anticipate him being out. We got some other guys monitoring some health-related things."

Safety Terrell Edmunds is in the concussion protocol and Minkah Fitzpatrick has a knee injury that needs to be managed throughout the week. Defensive back Cam Sutton has a groin and hamstring injury and Cam Heyward suffered ankle and elbow ailments during Sunday's battle against the Jets.

"We'll provide more reps for guys who are playing in place" of those who are injured, Tomlin said.

You can watch the Steelers battle the Buffalo Bills this Sunday on KDKA-TV. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m.

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