PITTSBURGH -- Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett on Tuesday strongly denied rumors that he refused to dress as the backup to Mason Rudolph against the Seahawks.

"It was either I was going to start and play," Pickett said, "or if they didn't think I was good enough to do that, healthy enough, I was going to be the 3 and not dress."

Pickett, who was inactive for the Week 17 win against the Seahawks despite being designated as questionable before the game, opened up the five-minute scrum with local media Tuesday by saying the rumors, which began spreading on social media Sunday night, were false and were "attacking my character and how I am as a person."

"There was no talk of me being a backup quarterback this week in terms of being a 2," Pickett said. "If I was healthy enough to play, and the trainers and coaches felt like I looked good enough to play, I was going to start and play. If they believed that 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, I don't know where it started, it's kind of crazy what people will write and put out there to try to prove their point or help their standpoint or their careers and what you guys do. But disappointed to see that without any proof or basis of it."

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Pickett, who had TightRope surgery for a high ankle sprain on Dec. 4 and was medically cleared to play late last week, also said he will dress and be the No. 2 quarterback behind Rudolph in Saturday's regular-season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.

"This week I'm now the 2," Pickett said. "They feel good four weeks out of the surgery for me to dress and be the 2. So I'll be the 2 and do what I have to do to be ready to go from Baltimore."

Pickett hasn't played since aggravating his ankle injury in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13. Mitch Trubisky started the next two games against the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, both losses, but was benched in the final two minutes against the Colts for longtime backup Rudolph.

Rudolph started and won the next two games to keep the Steelers' playoff hopes alive. Coach Mike Tomlin announced the decision Monday to ride the hot hand and start Rudolph against the Ravens.

"We're going to leave the ball in Mason Rudolph's hands," Tomlin said. "He's done a good job and we've done a good job in the most recent two weeks. We've taken care of the ball; he's taken care of the ball. We've scored points at a rate in 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. But I say all those things with the understanding that I know Kenny is very capable, and particularly as it pertains to this matchup, Kenny has led us to victory late in the game the last two times we played Baltimore. And so, we feel like we got two capable guys."

With Rudolph at quarterback, the Steelers have scored 34 and 30 points in back-to-back wins, and the offense is averaging more than 400 yards per game in each of those contests. Rudolph also threw for 290 and 274 yards. Pickett, meanwhile, has averaged 172.5 yards per game in 12 starts this season and has six touchdowns to four interceptions.

"As a competitor, you want the ball," Pickett said. "I want the ball in the most crucial situations of the game. I want the ball in the biggest games of the season, and this is what you work for, this is what you do. But one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity.

"Mason played well when he got in there. I have a ton of respect for Mason. Everything he's done and what our team has been doing. So now my job that I'm back healthy is to be the backup. If something happens, if he goes down, be ready to go and continue to support him the way I've been."

Pickett said the conversations with the coaching staff about his status and the quarterback position were limited during his recovery from the ankle surgery, with the focus remaining on rehabbing his ankle.

"It was tough," Pickett said of the conversation with Tomlin. "Early on, there really wasn't many conversations. It was very much a day-by-day, week-by-week thing in terms of what was happening. If Mason did not play well, I feel like I would've had to go in there earlier than they would've wanted me to, and that's just the truth of the situation.

"He played well. They felt where I was at in my recovery. They didn't want to push it and try for me to suit up and had to get thrown in there. So that's why I didn't suit [up]."

Pickett has been a limited participant in practice throughout the last two weeks, but he didn't take any first-team reps. That, Tomlin said Monday, was the basis for Pickett not being the primary backup to Rudolph against Seattle.

"It was about the distribution of reps and who was best prepared and positioned to help us win," Tomlin said of the decision to make Pickett inactive. "And so, that's the direction that we went with."

Pickett confirmed the lack of team reps contributed to him not being active against Seattle.

"From a coaching standpoint, that's what they wanted, me to get more reps," Pickett said. "And they weren't comfortable with what I was looking like earlier in the week with where I was with my ankle to do that."

Pickett also said he'd like to get team reps before getting back on the field, but he acknowledged that it's difficult to do at this point in the season.

"Reps are limited, like you said, being four weeks removed, you want to get reps to just get back into the swing of things," Pickett said. "But where we're at right now, it's kind of hard to do that."

Asked if he felt he had lost his starting job, Pickett expressed some frustration.

"Listen, like I just said, it was one man's misfortune, another's opportunity," Pickett said. "He came in, he's playing well and that's why they're going to roll with him. So we'll see how it plays out. I got to be ready to go in case we have to, whatever it takes to get to the playoffs, it's all hands on deck, so I'll be ready to go if need be."

Pickett declined to speculate on what being the No. 2 behind Rudolph for this crucial game meant for his future. A 2022 first-round pick, Pickett is under contract through 2025, and he can be kept under club control until 2026 with the fifth-year option. That decision is due in May 2025.

"It's been so day-by-day, week-by-week," Pickett said. "We'll figure that out when the time comes."