Rooney-don’t look for many changes around Kenny Pickett

What the Steelers President said about his young core on offense
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Photo credit Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – The Steelers ended up 26th in points scored in 2022. Yes, they did improve over the course of the season, but still were only better in scoring than a half-dozen teams. Team President Art Rooney said when asked the one thing he wants to improve-‘score more points’. While he did not rule out using early picks in the draft, he likes the current talent there.

“I think we have a lot of good, young players on offense,” Rooney told a select group of reporters on Thursday. “We may have a lot of the pieces around him that we need. You can always use another piece and we will look for other pieces, but I think we have a good young group there. We’ll have an opportunity in this draft, a couple of high picks we can utilize. In general, I like what we are bringing back on offense.”

They may not go offense in the first round. There are some spots to fill in free agency on defense, Rooney acknowledged as much. He wouldn’t speculate on names, but even though he feels good about their cap situation right now, he doesn’t yet know the number for 2023.

Corner Cam Sutton is an entrenched starter, he’s a free agent. So is run-stuffer Larry Ogunjobi and five-year starting safety Terrell Edmunds. Linebacker Robert Spillane played every snap the last few games and while Devin Bush won’t be back, it’s a hole to fill. Then there are key reserves-defensive lineman Chris Wormley, safety Damontae Kazee, finding a third outside linebacker.

You may have hopes of getting an offensive lineman or receiver in the first round. Given the needs on defense and the stance of Pickett having ‘a lot of the pieces around him that we need’. It could be an early part of the team draft dominated by defensive selections.

Obviously free agency will open six weeks before the Draft, so some of the questions will be answered.

Rooney said he liked the running back combination of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren. He loved how the team owned the time of possession towards the end of the year and said the lack of turnovers played to their late accomplishments.

The Steelers President is not risk averse, he’s good with a more aggressive plan for 2023 that Mike Tomlin alluded to in his season-ending news briefing. He believes the conservatism we saw in 2022 was due to the number of young players on offense. Rooney did say ‘if you have opportunities to open it up, you do it’.

Their plan includes these young players improving, that could happen, but not a guarantee. Specifically, he believes his receivers need to help Pickett get more yards after catch.

Asked if they would add a senior offensive assistant like the team did last season bringing Brian Flores aboard on defense, Rooney said he didn’t want to speculate on the coaching staff. He did acknowledge there may still be a change or two in the group.

No Kenny Opening Day

It was obvious by the way he was used since he first started full team activities, Kenny Pickett would not be given the job as the starter. The Pitt star began the year as the third-string QB, worked his way to the second-team and became the starter at halftime against the Jets.

Rooney said normally you don’t go into a season starting a rookie. He said Tomlin did not want to start a rookie quarterback.

“The way it turned out, I think it turned out pretty good given the fact we didn’t expect to have Kenny as our starter Week One,” Rooney said.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports