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'I look at plays I could have made'

The fan reaction at Acrisure Stadium was palpable, the buzz, energy and anticipation recognizable and revirberating, when No. 1 pick Kenny Pickett entered the game.

The change at quarterback resonated on the Steelers' sideline, as well.

Head coach Mike Tomlin spoke of the "spark" and "fluidity" Pickett brought when he took over at the start of the third quarter last Sunday against the Jets, and about how Pickett's "competitive spirit" became a "positive catalyst."

But the reaction in the locker room today to Tomlin naming Pickett the starter for this Sunday's game at Buffalo inspired no such emotion among Steelers veterans.

"I don't really have a reaction, honestly," defensive tackle Cam Heyward maintained. "I don't make the decision on who the quarterback is; I just have to play better and the defense has to play better as a defense. We knew the offense might have some hiccups and stuff but for the most part we just worry about playing better and complementing the entire offense as a whole. "Obviously, there's curiosity from a fan perspective but it's a team game. Whoever is back there we all have to be ready to support. That's not gonna change whether it's Mitch (Trubisky), Mason (Rudolph) or Kenny, so looking forward to it."

Added defensive lineman Chris Wormley: "I think my job is gonna be the same on defense. Give him as many opportunities to score points, get a bunch of turnovers, get off the field, especially this week with (Bills quarterback) Josh Allen extending plays.

"Just giving Kenny as many opportunities to score as possible."

The switch from Trubisky, who started the first three games, hit close to home for the offensive linemen, center Mason Cole, in particular.

"It's a little bit of a responsibility on me to help Kenny along and kind of be of assistance to him, whatever he needs from me and from us up front," Cole said. "I don't think that changes our mentality at all.

"I think we still have to go out and execute at the highest level, and that's always the goal. But with a rookie quarterback back there I think we just have to heighten our senses a little bit."

Tomlin emphasized it was not his intention to "dump the responsibility of what transpired at Mitch's feet.

"We've all got to absorb the responsibility that comes with what we haven't done, particularly in that phase, including myself and starting with myself," Tomlin maintained on Tuesday.

Guard James Daniels had already been looking in the mirror.

"I look at plays I could have made," Daniels acknowledged. "I look back at the New England game, there was a run play, I missed my block, and if I made my block it probably would have been like a 60-yard touchdown. That's one thing that sticks with me. That could completely change our record, that game, this season, just the beginning part of the season, if I make that one block on one play.

"So I look at myself, how I can do my job better and how I can help the other offensive linemen do their job better."