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Pickett said he's 'good to go'

Fans might notice some changes to Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett's look for the team's game on Saturday against the Las Vegas Raiders beyond the throwback block script numbers on the uniforms the team will wear for the game.

Pickett will be sporting a visor on his helmet for the first time this season. And that visor won't be in place because temperatures are expected to be in single digits.

Because of his second concussion this season, doctors have suggested Pickett switch to the Riddell Axiom helmet, which also is worn by Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth.

Pickett, who will return to start this week after sitting out last week's 24-16 win over the Carolina Panthers, was only too happy to comply with that request.

But he wasn't necessarily happy with the facemask choices involved in wearing that particular helmet and had to ask for a visor to be installed on his equipment.

"There are two options with this helmet. There's the lineman facemask, where it kind of blocks my vision a little bit. I don't really like it," Pickett said Thursday as the Steelers (6-8) prepared to host the Raiders (6-8) at Acrisure Stadium.

"I tried that in practice. With the visor for this facemask, the facemask gap is too wide. A fist can literally go through it. I don't want to get punched in the face on Saturday. So I was like, 'I'll probably wear the visor and we'll be good to go.'"

Pickett said he used to wear a visor in his "Pop Warner days," so it hasn't taken much of an adjustment.

He just wants to make sure he doesn't suffer a third concussion this season.

The rookie was injured while being sacked by Baltimore's Roquan Smith in the first quarter of the Steelers' 16-14 loss Dec. 11. He also had suffered a concussion late in the first half of an Oct. 16 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But unlike the first concussion, after which he was cleared to return to practice the following Wednesday and played the next week against the Dolphins, the symptoms lingered longer after this one. Pickett said he was cleared by an independent neurologist on Monday.

Pickett initially returned to the game for a series after the hit by Smith after being cleared by independent neurologists on the sideline. But as he came off the field following that series, he reported to doctors he was experiencing symptoms of a concussion and was immediately pulled from the game.

"I thought I was good to go. I felt good," Pickett said. "And when I got back out there and started running, the vision started coming into play more, I'm moving and things are going fast, that's when the symptoms started to come up. I had to go inside. They ruled me out. 

"We knew what it was after I started getting back into play. It was definitely the right call to get me out and get me into protocol. I had some symptoms last week. They're cleared up now. I feel good to go."

His two concussions aren't going to affect how he plays the game or how the Steelers call plays for him.

• Dale Lolley is co-host of "SNR Drive" on Steelers Nation Radio. Subscribe to the podcast here: Apple Podcast | iHeart Podcast

Pickett has completed 65 percent of his passes in 10 games this season, nine of them starts. He's thrown for 1,797 yards with four touchdowns and eight interceptions while also running for 225 yards and three scores.

"We have great faith in the process and what we do. I don't think we can play like that," Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada said. "The plan is kind of the plan. The injury kind of occurred on a drop back we had a missed assignment on. I don't think we're going to have a big difference. He's learning every week and understanding where we're at and what we're doing and not taking unnecessary risks and those things. He's doing that. Nothing strategic from us."

That's the way Pickett would have it, as well.

"I think I've done a pretty good job this year," Pickett said of protecting himself. "It comes with the position. It comes with playing football. It's going to happen. I was lucky early in my career in college, really not having many concussions, or at all, really."

And he's looking forward to getting back onto field, despite being on the sideline last week in Carolina and gaining a new perspective on things.

Pickett said he was on a coaching headset last week instead of just listening to Canada's play calls through a helmet as he had done when he served as the No. 2 quarterback behind Mitch Trubisky.

While on the headset, Pickett could head not just Canada, but all of the Steelers coaches and what the overall plan happened to be.

"I liked hearing the chatter in the headset. That was the first time I've heard all the chatter, where the coaches are talking," Pickett said. "I liked hearing the chatter in between series, what the coaches are thinking. I was putting in input like Mitch and Mason (Rudolph) do when I'm in. It was a unique experience, but I definitely like being out there more."