Steelers’ Kenny Pickett To Undergo Ankle Surgery

The ankle injury which Kenny Pickett suffered in Week 13 will force him to miss time, but it may not be season-ending. The Steelers’ starting quarterback will undergo surgery today, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Rapoport adds, crucially, that the Steelers will not place Pickett on injured reserve. Doing so would require at least a four-week absence and, for all intents and purposes, shut him down for the remainder of the campaign. Pickett will miss Pittsburgh’s upcoming Thursday night game at a minimum, Rapoport notes, so Mitch Trubisky will handle starting duties against the Patriots.

Pickett’s procedure will address the lingering issue which he has been dealing with throughout the season. Rapoport notes the 2022 first-rounder’s surgery will be aimed at repairing a high ankle injury, so it would come as no surprise if he were to miss more than one game as a result. The Steelers could still find themselves in contention for an AFC playoff spot in the closing weeks of the season, however, so Pickett’s recovery will be a major storyline.

Pittsburgh sits at 7-5 after yesterday’s upset loss against the Cardinals. Offensive production was an issue in that game, something which has been the case for much of the year. The Steelers’ lack of improvement on that side of the ball led to the firing of Matt Canada, and an uptick in efficiency appeared to be on the horizon based on the team’s first outing after the decision. Questions will be raised about their ability to consistently produce with Trubisky at the helm for the time being, though.

The veteran has been in Pittsburgh since 2022, the year in which he ceded the starting role to Pickett midseason. Pittsburgh has had to use Trubisky on a number of occasions since then, however, owing to Pickett’s injury troubles. The 25-year-old’s latest ailment will interrupt his first full season as a starter, one in which he has roughly duplicated his statistics from his rookie campaign. While that has limited the Steelers’ output in the passing game, they have leaned on their rushing attack in recent weeks in particular.

Pittsburgh rushed for 130 yards in Week 13, using the tandem of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren in the backfield. That helped raise the team’s average to 115 yards per game on the ground, which ranks 14th in the NFL (compared to 30th in their passing output). A ground-heavy approach would come as little surprise with Trubisky now atop the depth chart as the Steelers look to continue their postseason push with a shorthanded offense.

Steelers S Minkah Fitzpatrick Expected To Play

While the Steelers will continue to deal with a number of defenders being on injured reserve, they are set to return a leader on that side of the ball in safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. According to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, Fitzpatrick is set to appear in his first game in four weeks this Sunday against the Cardinals.

Fitzpatrick had to make his exit early into the team’s loss to the Jaguars back in October with a hamstring injury. Pittsburgh didn’t think they would need to place its veteran safety on IR, hoping to see him return sooner rather than later, but after four weeks without their vocal leader, gaining an extra roster spot by placing him on IR would’ve been the preferred move in retrospect.

The extended absence is the first of Fitzpatrick’s storied career. In the five and a half seasons until this absence, Fitzpatrick has appeared in 86 of a possible 89 games, starting in 81. Fitpatrick had never missed consecutive games either, with the three absences being one-game situations. Even when the former Dolphin was traded two weeks into the season from Miami, he was in black and yellow six days later without missing a snap.

In Fitzpatrick’s first multi-game absence, the team had to promote practice squad safety Trenton Thompson to the active roster. Keanu Neal and Elijah Riley were filling in the first few weeks before finding their way to IR. Thompson has performed well for being thrown into the fire, but the Steelers will be excited to return Fitzpatrick next to strong safety Damontae Kazee this weekend.