Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is leaving the door “ajar” for Kenny Pickett to play on Thursday when Tennessee visits Acrisure Stadium.
Pickett left Sunday’s 20-10 loss to Jacksonville late in the second quarter with a rib injury. He warmed up briefly at the end of halftime but did not take the field again. Backup Mitch Trubisky played the entirety of the second half as Pittsburgh fell to 4-3.
Tomlin said Pickett will try to practice at least once before facing the Titans (3-4).
“I need to see physical preparation in order to consider him, certainly,” Tomlin said.
While Pickett could play, All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will not. The three-time Pro Bowler left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.
The Steelers defense forced three turnovers and bent but rarely broke against the Jaguars with Fitzpatrick on the sideline, though the one touchdown they gave up — a 56-yard strike from Trevor Lawrence to running back Travis Etienne — came when Lawrence took advantage of an overly aggressive Damontae Kazee, who briefly bit on a shallower route and was out of position when Lawrence’s pass sailed over his head.
Kazee, who also picked off Lawrence in the end zone in the second quarter, will likely start with Fitzpatrick out.
Pittsburgh’s run defense could get a potential boost by the return of veteran defensive lineman Cam Heyward. Heyward hasn’t played since needing groin surgery after getting hurt in a Week 1 loss to San Francisco. The 34-year-old returned to practice last Thursday.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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