Kenny Pickett making major change to help prevent concussions

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett is taking extra precautions to protect his head after suffering multiple concussions last season. 

Kenny Pickett gave the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fanbase plenty to be excited about during his rookie season. The No. 20 overall pick from the 2022 NFL Draft threw for 2,404 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 starts, posting a record of 7-5 under center. Not bad for his first year in the league.

Now, Pickett will look to trim down his mistakes (nine interceptions) and build on that momentum with a strong sophomore campaign. He’s firmly in the driver’s seat for Pittsburgh, fueled by a strong mentor in the QB room and one of the league’s best head coaches.

One of the primary concerns with Pickett, however, is health — more specifically, head health. Cerebral trauma is a frequent and increasingly dire problem in football, and Kenny Pickett was at the center of that conversation last season.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett taking precautions to prevent future concussions

Pickett suffered two separate concussions only 56 days apart in 2022. He missed two games as a result. Aside from the on-field ramifications, there are urgent concerns about Pickett’s long-term health. Football is only a sport, and the NFL is only part of these players’ lives. The goal should be to deliver each and every player to retirement with a fully operational body.

That’s easier said than done, of course, but head injuries carry much deeper long-term health concerns than a torn ACL or a bruised shoulder. Now the Steelers are making sure Pickett has the best available helmet to keep his noggin secure.

According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Pickett’s new helmet — the Zero2 Matrix QB — is designed to limit the impact of helmet-to-ground contact. Both of Pickett’s concussions last season were suffered when his head snapped back and hit the turf after a tackle.

Good on the Steelers for making the change, and good on Pickett for accepting and embracing the new circumstances. Professional sports figures can get very picky with their equipment; to some, it becomes borderline superstition. Pickett is showing the wisdom you’d want in a franchise quarterback. It may take him time to adjust to the new helmet and face mask, but Pickett will hopefully reap the benefits down the road.

“They said that was the best one for quarterbacks, so I said, ‘Fine, give it to me,'” Pickett told the Athletic. He doesn’t plan to change helmets unless a better one is developed.

The Steelers will enter next season with both high expectations and a patient fanbase. The post-Big Ben youth movement is fully underway, but Pickett was a winning QB last season. With fresh, exciting young talent added to the roster over the summer — such as 2023 first-round pick Broderick Jones, who will protect Pickett in the pocket — the Steelers have the luxury of patience but the upside to shock the world.

If Pickett can stay on the field, don’t be surprised if Pittsburgh’s rebuild comes along faster than expected.

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