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Tomlin makes it official with Trubisky, Pickett as No. 2

Mike Tomlin put an end to any more questions regarding who the Steelers' starting quarterback would be Tuesday at the UPMC-Rooney Sports Complex when he named veteran Mitch Trubisky to the position at his first official press conference of the 2022 season.

The Steelers' head coach had remained non-committal about which of his quarterbacks would replace retired Ben Roethlisberger as the team's starter after 18 seasons, though all signs – including the initial depth chart released Monday afternoon -- had pointed to Trubisky. 

Tuesday, Tomlin made it official. Trubisky will be the team's starter at quarterback when the Steelers travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals at Paycor Stadium Sunday to open the season. 

"We're just really comfortable with what Mitch has shown us," Tomlin said. "He's a guy that came to us with franchise quarterback experience. He's comfortable in those shoes. He's been the focal point of a football team in an organization before. He's had success doing so. He took the Bears to the playoffs in two out of four years. He has a winning record as a quarterback. Those things were attractive to us."

Thus ends a months-long process that saw Trubisky open OTA sessions as the team's starter ahead of first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett and fifth-year veteran Mason Rudolph. 

Trubisky, signed to a two-year deal in free agency in the offseason, will get the nod, a move that occurred a day after the sixth-year veteran was voted a team captain by his teammates. 

"Mitch is really comfortable in those shoes and displayed that daily in just about any circumstance you put him in," Tomlin said.

The second-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, Trubisky has started 50 games in his career, compiling a 29-21 record as a starter. He twice led the Bears to the postseason and was voted to the Pro Bowl following the 2018 season.

But with the selection of Pickett in the first round of this year's draft, Tomlin held a competition for the team's starting job, though Trubisky, because of his edge in experience, was the leader all along.

All three quarterbacks played well in the preseason as the Steelers posted their first unbeaten preseason since going 5-0 in 1997. The three quarterbacks posted a combined passer rating of 113.1, throwing seven touchdown passes without an interception.

Trubisky completed just over 70 percent of his passes in the preseason, throwing for 283 yards with two touchdowns and a passer rating of 115.2.

The initial depth chart listed Rudolph ahead of Pickett, but the Steelers updated that Tuesday to list Pickett ahead of Rudolph. The issue, according to Tomlin, was a clerical error.

"I'm really pleased with the growth and development of Kenny," Tomlin said. "That's why he's listed as No. 2. I thought his acceleration of development really took off once we stepped into stadiums. His decision making, the fluidity of it, his competitive spirit, his pinpoint accuracy, all of those things really came to the forefront once we started stepping int stadiums.

"And I thought he grew and grew at a really fast pace once we got into stadiums. And I also think it's reasonable to expect that growth to continue as we push into the regular season. We're excited about where he is and the ground he's covered to this point and the ground he's going to continue to cover."

Pickett, the 20th pick in this year's draft and the only quarterback selected in the first round, completed just over 80 percent of his passes in the preseason for 261 yards and three touchdowns. 

Tomlin said earlier in training camp he expected his defense to be "dominant." Asked about his expectations of his offense on Tuesday, his response was similar.

"I think there's more continuity on the defensive side of the ball. So, it's reasonable to expect that process to be more fluid quicker," Tomlin said. "We're trying to be a World Championship-caliber team. It's going to require us to be special in all three phases, and those are our intentions."