The Pittsburgh Steelers are bracing for an extended Kenny Pickett injury absence after the starting quarterback suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 13's 24-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

The 25-year-old underwent successful surgery on Monday and is officially out for Week 14 against the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football. The absence could end up being a full four weeks, according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

“The sense out of Pittsburgh is quarterback Kenny Pickett could end up missing four weeks with that right ankle injury,” Fowler reported on Wednesday. “I've talked to people who are at least bracing for that possibility.”

With Pickett likely out until the regular-season finale against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18, it'll be Mitch Trubisky under centre against the Pats. Trubisky threw for 117 yards and a touchdown on 17 attempts on Sunday, and will get the start against a New England defense that didn't allow a single Los Angeles Chargers' touchdown in Week 13.

“So Mitch Trubisky could have a four-game run to make something happen,” Fowler continued. “If the four-week outlook holds, then Pickett would be back for the season finale at Baltimore on Jan. 7. With the Steelers' rocky offensive journey this season, how the team finishes will be anyone's guess. Coach Mike Tomlin's culture typically prevails in situations like this, but the Steelers will be tested.”

Steelers battling for a playoff berth

Mitch Trubisky, T.J. Watt, Steelers logo vs. Bailey Zappe, Hunter Henry, Patriots logo. Thursday Night Football logo.

After Sunday's defeat, the Steelers fall to 7-5, tied for second with the Cleveland Browns in the AFC North. They continue to battle for a postseason spot, and will face the Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks and Ravens to close out the regular season.

They'll likely be facing Bailey Zappe on Thursday in New England.

“The Steelers are loosely planning to face quarterback Bailey Zappe on Thursday night vs. the Patriots,” explained Fowler. “But they are also looking into Mac Jones and Malik Cunningham, just in case. The Patriots didn't get Cunningham involved last week but have been working on potential packages for him. He has thrown the ball relatively well in practices.”

The 2-10 Patriots might be long out of the running for a playoff spot, but they'll be a tough test regardless at home for Mitch Trubisky and the Steelers in the first game of Week 14.