BATTLE PLAN: Offensive coordinator Matt Canada took advantage of the opening of mandatory minicamp today to confirm the pecking order at quarterback, temporary as it may be, as the Steelers complete their final off-season work this week in advance of training camp.
"I think Coach (Mike Tomlin) has been very clear that Mitch (Trubisky) is No. 1 and he's working with the No. 1s and doing a real good job with that," Canada said. "Mason (Rudolph) is No. 2 and (No. 1 pick) Kenny (Pickett) is No. 3 and we're working it that way based on experience, based on resumes, and Coach made that decision.
"We've been very clear where that is. We've also been very clear that this is a real laid out plan of how we're gonna evolve and find who our quarterback is going to be for the 2022 season and that's where we are with it."
Up next will be a quarterback competition at St. Vincent College.
May the best man win.
"Certainly, it's the best one," Canada continued. "But what makes him the best? Is it taking care of the ball? Is it making plays in the red zone? Is it leading the team? Is it all those things? That's certainly a Coach Tomlin decision that we're all going through every day.
"I continue to compliment Coach, the plan is so clear. Right now we're just getting better. We're putting in our offense. We're putting in a lot of parts of our offense and we're gonna try to evolve and find who does this well? Who does that well? Who has this intangible thing? Who has this tangible thing? And then through all that we'll find the guys we think are the best fit for each spot.
"And quarterback certainly is the one we all like to talk about the most."
Deciding the three-way battle looms as challenging but not unmanageable, Canada maintained.
"We have to find a way to get to who the starting quarterback is going to be but we're also being very focused on giving everyone a fair shot to do it," he said.
"Fair is not always equal, we all understand that. There's a balance there but right now all three guys have gotten good looks. We feel good, sometime before we play the Bengals (in the regular-season opener on Sept. 11 at Cincinnati) we'll have a solid decision and be in a good spot."
READY WHEN CALLED UPON: Pickett said he got an opportunity to run the two-minute offense at the conclusion of practice.
The moment wasn't too big for him.
"I had a lot of experience in college so it's familiar," he said. "I felt pretty comfortable. Coach Whipple (former Pitt quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Mark) did an unbelievable job of getting me prepared for two-minute situations and situational football. So I can really shout out him and thank him for that.
"I just wanted to go in there and execute, move the ball and put points up on the board. We did everything except finishing so next time I go out there I definitely want to do that."
CATCH WITH AN ASTERISK: Pickett's drive included a catch by sixth-round pick Connor Heyward, that drew praise from his teammates.
Before the media could engage the rookie tight end for some detailed analysis, big brother Cam, whose locker is adjacent to Connor's, had some advice.
"Make sure you talk about his mistakes now," Cam Heyward bellowed.
First, the catch:
"The scenario was two-minute, we were trying to score a touchdown," Connor Heyward explained. "Two-high (safeties), I saw that, I just tried to split them. Kenny put the ball in a good place, and then I made a good play on the ball."
Pickett thought that analysis didn't do the catch justice.
"He made a hell of a play," the quarterback maintained.
Now, the mistake:
After making the catch, Heyward didn't do what he needed to do in order to facilitate getting the next snap off as quickly as possible.
And the clock was ticking.
"I forgot to run the ball in to the quarterback," Heyward said. "That's what practice is for. I gotta be smarter than that.
"I just dropped the ball. I gotta hand it to the ref. That was a selfish play. I'll learn from it and I'm gonna grow from it."
BIG PLAY, BIG FINISH: Rookie wide receiver George Pickens also got in on the big-play action.
"I kinda tooted my own horn a little bit," Pickens admitted. "I'm not really much of a celebratory guy but any time I get a big play you're gonna see it."
Pickens initially anticipated his role on the play would be to "just clear it out and let the other guys get open behind me.
"It just developed, for sure," he said. "I looked up and the ball was in the air, and then I turned on the speed. I wasn't expected to get it at all."
Pickens wasn't surprised it was Trubisky taking the deep shot in that instance.
"He's been one of the quarterbacks to release it, for sure, going downfield," Pickens said. "A lot of other guys have been trying to get with the program, and stuff like that, which is totally fine.
"Yeah, he's been launching it, for sure."