Kenny Pickett vehemently denied accusations that he refused to be the backup quarterback behind starter Mason Rudolph in the Pittsburgh Steelers' 30-23 win at Seattle on Sunday.
Pickett addressed the allegations before practice at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Tuesday morning.
“There's no talk of me being a (number) two this week as a backup quarterback,” Pickett said. “If I'm healthy enough to play and the coaches and trainers feel I'm healthy enough to play, I'm going to start playing and play.
“I'm not going to dress up and play if they believe I'm not, and they do.”
Mitch Trubisky served as Rudolph's backup in the second game. Pickett, meanwhile, missed his fourth straight game with a high ankle sprain that required a procedure known as tight-rope surgery.
Allegations of Pickett's refusal to be a No. 2 quarterback surfaced on social media Monday, the day after Rudolph led the Steelers to their second straight win in Baltimore's season finale.
“I'm disappointed to see it without any evidence or basis,” Pickett said, adding that he felt it was “about my character and how I was as a person.”
Pickett indicated he had no idea whether he or Trubisky would be the backup against Seattle.
“If Mason doesn't play well, I think I might have to go there earlier than they want me to,” he said. “That's just the reality of the situation. … Where I was rescued, they didn't want to push it and threw me in there trying to fit me in.”
When the Steelers face the Ravens on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium, he will be the No. 2 quarterback, Pickett said.
“They feel better four weeks after surgery so I can be in clothes and two,” she said. “So, I'll be two and do what I have to do to get ready for Baltimore.”
Coach Mike Tomlin said Monday that Pickett was medically cleared to play, but “clarity won't come until later in the week, and it's all about distribution of reps and being prepared and positioned the best we can to help us win.”
Pickett said he would have started against Seattle.
“I'm going to start playing or play or if they don't feel I'm good enough to do it, healthy enough, I'm going to be three, not dressed,” he said.
Pickett said he understands why Tomlin would give Rudolph his third consecutive start, but he's also disappointed he won't be the starting quarterback with the Steelers' playoff fate hanging in the balance. The Steelers' easiest path to the playoffs is to beat Baltimore on Saturday afternoon, beat Buffalo at Miami, or lose at Jacksonville on Sunday at Tennessee.
“As a competitor, you want the ball in the most important situations of the game,” he said. “I want the ball in the biggest games of the season. That's what you work for and what you do. One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity, and Mason played well once he got there.
“I have a ton of respect for Mason and everything he's done and what our team is doing. Now that I'm back healthy, my job is to be a backup, if something happens, if he goes down, be ready to continue to support him like I was.