Steelers' Pickett exits, returns, then placed in protocol

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith (18) during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich) (Fred Vuich, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he didn't know “the details regarding the sequence” that led to rookie quarterback Kenny Picket initially being cleared to play before being put into concussion protocol during a 16-14 loss to Baltimore on Sunday.

Pickett was shaken up after getting sacked by Baltimore linebacker Roquan Smith at the end of Pittsburgh's first drive. He was evaluated by medical personnel and cleared to return, playing one more series before being ruled out for the remainder of the game and replaced by Mitch Trubisky.

Tomlin said Pickett was pulled after he became symptomatic.

“I don't know about the sequence or the details regarding the sequence,” Tomlin said after the game.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association modified the language in the protocol earlier this season after Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was allowed to return after experiencing stability issues following a hit against Buffalo in September.

The new guidelines added balance/stability concerns to the league's list of symptoms that would keep a player from returning to the game.

Pickett sat on the ground for several seconds after getting driven into the ground by Smith, but he did not appear to have any mobility issues walking off the field.

Trubisky warmed up briefly while Pickett spent time in the blue medical tent and then checked on his teammate before Pickett went out for Pittsburgh's second drive.

“I just kept asking him how he was feeling,” Trubisky said. “He said he was feeling fine, and that was that.”

This is the second time this season Pickett has been placed in the protocol. He missed the second half of a victory over Tampa Bay on Oct. 16.

Trubisky led the Steelers to a touchdown drive after entering the game but also threw three interceptions in Baltimore territory to thwart potential scoring drives.

Baltimore quarterback Tyler Huntley, filling in for injured starter Lamar Jackson, also went into the concussion protocol in the second half and did not return. Huntley was replaced by undrafted rookie Anthony Brown.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh indicated he was optimistic Huntley would be available next week when the Ravens (9-4) visit Cleveland (5-8).


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