The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to put a solid offensive performance together last Saturday night when they hosted the Seattle Seahawks in Preseason Week 1. The offense put up 32 total points, all three quarterbacks were able to put up at least one touchdown and the running game looked to be proficient, something which hasn’t been able to be said in quite some time.
Of all the players who stood out last Saturday, the one which stood out the most was a rookie. No, not Kenny Pickett, but second round pick George Pickens. Pickens is brimming with potential and talent, but if there is one area where he doesn’t need any boosting, it’s in the confidence department.
Before fans immediately label Pickens as cocky, or arrogant, know there is a difference between cocky and confident. It is a thin line, but many of the best athletes are able to walk that line and stay focused.
Pickens was able to put up the following stat line in his first professional game:
3 receptions, 43 yards, 14.3 average, 1 touchdown, 26 yard long, 5 targets
The play which stole the show? That lone touchdown reception on a pass from Mason Rudolph. Pickens’ ability to contort his body and get his feet in bounds was absolutely mesmerizing.
Want to see a unique angle on the play? Check out the video in the tweet below:
George Pickens…insane #RideorDieCrew pic.twitter.com/jVrvCbZSUB— Jeff Hartman (@JHartman_PIT) August 14, 2022
After the game, Pickens was asked about if he knew he got his feet in-bounds. As you can imagine, Pickens felt as if he did.
“Yeah.” he said. “Just off the adjustment of my body. I saw how I landed, and I figured that my feet went dead, and I made the catch.”
Mike Tomlin was asked after the game if he was surprised with how Pickens performed on the biggest stage of his career, to this point. His answer spoke volumes.
The fact is Pickens has been making sensational plays all throughout training camp at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. This was just the first time many outside of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base got to see Pickens up-close-and-personal. It was a form of validation for Pickens.
“Yeah, dude. Just to get the feel of the game.” Pickens recalled. “That’s really the most important part. I’ve been doing the same thing I’ve been doing at practice.
“For me, it was like a no-brainer. Like you said, I’ve been doing it in camp. So, it was like a no-brainer. But for the crowd and the team, it was amazing.”
When you take into consideration how Pickens has been catching passes in camp from all three of the quarterbacks vying for the starting job in 2022, it made sense for Pickens to give a fair assessment of the trio. What was his impression of the three quarterbacks Saturday night?
“I think they all did well, to be honest.” said Pickens. “I think they all put in hard work. That’s what we’ve been doing in training camp. It paid off, for sure.”
It is at this juncture of the preseason when many are wondering how Pickens fell to the Steelers in the 2nd Round of the 2022 NFL Draft. How there were so many receivers drafted ahead of him. Falling to Day 2 of the draft process didn’t hinder Pickens’ confidence in himself, or his abilities.
“This is what I expect. That’s what I was telling people at the Combine. The type of player I am. The type of dude I am. Instead of going off analytics, I wanted to show people that I could really play.”
Pickens has shown just that in the short time he’s been in a black and gold uniform, but if one thing has become crystal clear, it is the fact Pickens is brimming with confidence. To be honest, he’s always been brimming with confidence, he didn’t need a superb performance to help in that department.
But it didn’t hurt either.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the preseason and wrapping up training camp this Thursday at Saint Vincent College.