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Steelers QB Kenny Pickett will not play vs. Colts on Saturday

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) walks to the locker room after being injured during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

For a second consecutive week, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without Kenny Pickett. Mitchell Trubisky will once again start under center Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts as the second-year starting quarterback continues to recover from his ankle surgery.

In his first start of the season, Trubisky was booed early, and often, by the home crowd as the offense struggled to get anything going in his first half against the lowly New England Patriots.

At different points, the crowd chanted for third-stringer Mason Rudolph to enter the game — especially after Trubisky threw for 61 yards and completed only six of his 11 passes in the first half. He also had several throws end in near disaster, which further frustrated fans and teammates, like receiver George Pickens, who was visibly frustrated.

But head coach Mike Tomlin decided to stick with Trubisky, who played better in the second half and finished the game with 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 22-of-35 passing. Trubisky also scored on a quarterback sneak in Pittsburgh's 21-18 loss to the Patriots on Thursday.

"Mitch picked up his play as the game wore on," Tomlin said. "I thought that that is a reasonable expectation for him to be even better because of that experience, and because of the experience of having a full week's prep this week in preparation for the performance."

Pittsburgh may head to Lucas Oil Stadium even more short-handed on the defensive side as All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt and linebacker Alex Highsmith are both in the concussion protocol, Tomlin announced.

Watt took a knee to the head on the very first play and left the game briefly for two snaps. He eventually returned with a darker visor to continue playing the remainder of the game.

Then, at Friday's practice, he told coaches he was experiencing concussion-like symptoms, which resulted in him entering the protocol.

The Steelers (7-6) visit the Colts on Saturday, for a game with major implications in the AFC playoff race. After two straight losses, the Steelers are looking up at the Colts (7-6), who hold the seventh, and final AFC playoff spot via tiebreakers.