Kenny Pickett denied he refused to play the backup role to quarterback Mason Rudolph and declared such reports disappointing and without merit.

Pickett clarified that the decision to sit came largely from medical personnel assessing his readiness four weeks removed from “tightrope” surgery to accelerate recovery from a high-ankle sprain against Arizona in Week 13. Mitch Trubisky started the next two games, both losses, before Steelers coach Mike Tomlin handed the ball to Rudolph, who is 2-0 as the starter.

Trubisky was the backup to Rudolph on Sunday at Seattle, but Pickett said he was inactive by no choice of his own, despite a post on X by Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden that Pickett “100 percent refused to be the backup” in the loss to the Seahawks.

“I saw reports out there I feel were attacking my character and how I am as a person. There was no talk of me being a backup quarterback this week as far as me being the (No.) 2 (quarterback),” Pickett said. “If I was healthy enough to play and trainers and coaches felt like I looked good enough to play, I was going to start and play. If they believed I was not, which they believed I was not, I was not going to dress and suit up for the game. So whoever reported that, don’t know where it started, it’s kind of crazy what people will write and put out there to prove their point or help their standpoint or careers in what you guys (media) do. But disappointing to see that without any proof or basis of it.

“So this week I’m now the 2. They feel good four weeks out of the surgery to dress and be the 2, so I will be the 2 and do what I have to do to get ready for Baltimore.”

Pickett had six touchdowns and four interceptions this season, his second as a starter since being drafted in the first round out of Pitt. He traveled with the team to Seattle last week after being limited in practice.

On Monday, Tomlin said the Steelers would stick with Rudolph in a pivotal regular-season finale at Baltimore. The Ravens clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC and could rest key players, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, in order to hit the postseason at full strength.

“He’s done a good job and we’ve done a good job in the most recent two weeks,” Tomlin said of Rudolph. “We’ve taken care of the ball. He’s taken care of the ball. We’ve scored points at a rate which we hadn’t done to this point this year. And with the urgency of the moment and because of those reasons, we’re going to leave the ball in his hands.”

Rudolph, 28, has completed 68.5 percent of his passes in his three appearances overall for 567 yards and two touchdowns. He has not thrown an INT.

–Field Level Media

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