PITTSBURGH -- With quarterback Kenny Pickett sidelined another week as he recovers from ankle surgery, the Pittsburgh Steelers will roll with Mitch Trubisky as their starter against the Indianapolis Colts.

Trubisky struggled in his first start of the season last week, completing 22 of 35 passes for 190 yards with two touchdowns (one pass, one rush) and an interception in the loss to the New England Patriots.

On Monday, Tomlin noted that Trubisky improved in the second half of Thursday's game.

"Mitch picked up his play as the game wore on," Tomlin said. "I thought that that is a reasonable expectation, for him to be even better because of that experience, and because of the experience of having a full week's prep this week in preparation for the performance, in-helmet reps, full-speed reps, excited about that component of it."

The Steelers' Mitch Trubisky will start at quarterback for the second straight week in place of the injured Kenny Pickett. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

In the first half, Trubisky completed 6 of 11 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown and threw a second-quarter interception that the Patriots turned into a TD two plays later. Trubisky also had a handful of near misses in the first half, including a first-quarter interception overturned for defensive pass interference.

In the second half, though, Trubisky completed 16 of 24 attempts for 129 yards with the rushing touchdown.

"It improved as the game wore on," Tomlin said of Trubisky's decision-making. "And I think with the full week's prep, I think it's reasonable to expect that to continue and continue at an increased rate."

Though Trubisky improved in the second half, the offense still struggled to move the ball. In the third quarter, an 11-play, seven-minute drive went only 32 yards and ended in a punt. Two other second-half possessions ended in turnovers on downs -- including one at New England's 8-yard line, when the offense couldn't capitalize on Mykal Walker's interception that had started the drive at the Patriots' 16.

1 Related

After the final play of that drive, which ended with a pass short of the sticks to Jaylen Warren, wide receiver George Pickens slumped in visible frustration in the end zone.

Cameras also showed Pickens, who didn't talk to reporters after the game, yelling at teammates on the sideline during the game. Throughout the season, Pickens hasn't been shy about expressing his emotions and frustrations.

"It is a problem because it's not solution-oriented," Tomlin said when asked about Pickens' outbursts. "We're all frustrated, but we got to manage our frustrations in a professional, mature way and when it's not done that way it's not necessarily pushing us toward solutions."

With Pickett inactive, quarterback Mason Rudolph was active against the Patriots. Though Rudolph will get more practice reps in preparing for the Colts, Tomlin dismissed the idea that Rudolph could be in contention to earn a start.

"He just hadn't had a lot of exposure in terms of in-helmet prep," Tomlin said. "And so, I don't know, what do you mean when you say a fair evaluation or shot? I don't know that we evaluate in-practice performance in that way this time of year.

"He'll get an opportunity to get some work, and we'll evaluate that work and evaluate his readiness, but we're not opening up competition and things of that nature. It's just not an environment for that as we work."

On defense, starting outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are in the concussion protocol. Watt took a knee to the face on the first play Thursday but returned two plays later.

"I assume that he was," Tomlin said when asked if Watt was checked for a concussion. "But again, I'm managing the game. I leave that to the medical experts. They essentially tell me whether someone is out, whether they're subject to return or whether they're back. I got a report that [Watt] was subject to return and then I got a report that he was back and that was just my knowledge of the details of what transpired with him during the time that he was out in-game."

During the game, Watt switched visors to one with a darker tint, something Tomlin said he was "not aware of."

Watt reported concussion symptoms when he came to the practice facility Friday and then was placed in the protocol.