Steelers believe as George Pickens grows, so will the offense

What the rookie thinks of his first season and working with Kenny Pickett
George Pickens celebrating
Photo credit Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – There was talk when he was drafted he was a first-round talent that dropped to the second round because of a knee injury in college. Are we starting to see the glimpses of George Pickens potential?

Pickens is coming off his biggest game working with Kenny Pickett as the starting quarterback. The Steelers rookie was targeted six times, catching four for 83 yards and a touchdown.

“To be honest with you, Kenny and I have been cool the whole time,” Pickens said. “So, nothing has changed between us off or on the field. We’ve been connecting since he had his opportunity. Now it’s just sustaining it, it’s the bad part of the season.”

What he means by that is it’s the time of the ‘rookie wall’, heading into the 12th week. The season started earlier than colleges and runs about six weeks longer, but he believes it’s starting to change after a no catch game against the Eagles and only 32 yards against the Saints.

“I thought Kenny did a nice job of getting him the touchdown, the big play on third down,” said Steelers Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada. “George is coming on and it’s just a matter of finding that togetherness with those guys. The ball going to the right spot at the right time. He wants more, we all want more.”

For the season, Pickens had 33 receptions on 53 targets for 453 yards. That’s third best among first-year receivers, just ahead of the Colts Alec Pierce, but trailing Chris Olave (56-822 yards) and Garrett Wilson (49-628 yards). Pickett played with the Biletnikoff Award winner (Jordan Addison) last year, but said of his new deep threat.

“He’s the best athlete I’ve played with,” Pickett said. “The freak things that he does. The catches he makes which are so nonchalant to him, but I look around and I’ve never seen that in my life. He’s a unique guy that can do a lot of great things. We need to continue to get him the football.”

Pickens said it’s about getting more opportunities and he believes that will come with Pickett. They are growing together and it started in rookie mini-camp, through OTAs and regular mini-camp right into Latrobe in July.

“Training camp, rookies staying in the dorms,” Pickens said. “It was our first season so we were only hanging with rookies. We’ve always had a good sustainability, it’s just keeping it up, keeping it going. You don’t want it to fall off, you want to keep it going.”

The trade of Chase Claypool hasn’t made a noticeable different in his touches, more so for Pat Freiermuth than Pickens. The rookie says he’s running the same routes and really doing the same things when Claypool was here as he is now. The Alabama native said he doesn’t feel as unprepared as some rookies might because he says his practices in college were NFL-like.

“I went to Georgia, half of the guys in my class on the defense went first round,” Pickens said. “Every day in practice, that was harder to be honest. That’s all first-round talent. Competing was never really a problem, if you lack that, that’s when it looks hard but I like to compete.”

“George has progressed very, very well since he’s been here,” Canada said. “Obviously his talent is what it is. He continues to play sound.”

“He’s a great receiver,” Pickett said. “We talk all the time how he is evolving to a complete receiver and having a full route tree that corners have to deal with. You become a lot tougher to cover when you have all different ways you can go and you are not just a deep ball threat, which he is not. He does a lot of great things for us at the intermediate level. As his game continues to grow, we will continue to grow as an offense.”

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