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Mar 24, 2024 7:35 pm

Mike Tomlin: Russell Wilson has ‘pole position’ for Steelers’ No. 1 QB

mike tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has two starter-quality quarterbacks on his roster, but only one can start.

Tomlin offered some insight Sunday on newcomers Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, Tomlin’s potential starters after the team traded Kenny Pickett.

“We’ve been very transparent about the pecking order, at least to start,” Tomlin told reporters at the NFL’s league meetings in Orlando, Fla. “I just think that provides clarity for all parties involved.”

That clarity indicates Wilson, 35, has the inside track after a roller-coaster two years with the Denver Broncos.

“Russell is a veteran, man,” Tomlin said. “He’s got a proven process of readiness. He’s been in this league a long time, and he’s capable of rallying troops, receivers, tight ends and running backs.”

Tomlin said Wilson, who reached two Super Bowls with the Seattle Seahawks, winning one, has a grasp of how to cultivate leadership over an extended amount of time — something that will provide a benefit for Fields as the quarterbacks “do some of the informal things at this time of the year.”

Fields, 25, threw for 2,562 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games last season for the Chicago Bears. He added 657 rushing yards and four scores.

He was traded to the Steelers this offseason in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2025 that could become a fourth-rounder if certain parameters are met.

Tomlin stopped short of calling Wilson his Week 1 starter.

“Rest assured, when it’s time to compete, Justin will (be) given an opportunity to compete,” he said, “and we’ll allow those guys to sort themselves out. But I thought it was appropriate to describe it in a way for when we get started. Russell’s in pole position, and I think his body of work justifies that.

“And just from my conversations with Justin, he is excited about working alongside Russell and learning some of those veteran tricks of the trade from … a guy who has been around for over a decade.”

The Steelers finished 10-7 last season, losing 31-17 to the Buffalo Bills in the wild-card playoff round.

–Field Level Media

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