The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks in stunning fashion Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium 32-25. The Steelers scored the winning TD with three seconds left as Kenny Pickett found Tyler Vaughns for the score. Pickett shone in his rookie debut, completing 13 of 15 pass attempts for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
While Pickett’s performance was probably the most anticipated of any Steelers on Saturday night, WR George Pickens wasn’t far behind him. Pickens had been in tears all of training camp, making reel catches in contested coverage while displaying impeccable body control and a jumping ability to climb the ladder and come down with tough catches.
The question was whether Pickens could have that success in practice translate into games against NFL competition. To put it bluntly…yes, it did. Pickens played just 21 snaps on Saturday night, Pickens had a huge impact in that limited performance, catching three passes on five targets for 43 yards and a touchdown.
Pickens’ first catch came on the first play from scrimmage at 2:54 in the first quarter. Lined up in the shotgun, Mitch Trubisky slams the football which immediately targets Pickens on the left sideline as he returns to the ball on a loopy road. Pickens catches after getting a separation step on Tariq Woolen as he returns to the ball, then runs back downfield after the catch, getting a few extra yards until he is pushed out of bounds at PIT 19 for a nine- yard gain.
Not only did Pickens stand out as a receiver, but his willpower as a blocker also showed on Saturday night. Pickens showed he was a physical blocker during his time at Georgia, and that seems to translate to the NFL when we watch this game as he puts No. 8 Coby Bryant on his back as the field goes to the Anthony McFarland Jr. Pickens’ length and aggressiveness helps him get his hands on the CB first as he extends fully to knock it down to the turf.
Pickens’ next play would end up being his TD in the back corner of the end zone. With 1:46 left in the first quarter, Mason Rudolph slams the shotgun ball and fires the through pass down the sideline to Pickens who takes Bryant vertically down the field. He gives a quick hesi step then accelerates in front of him on an outside clearance to get a separation step. Pickens then turns his head to locate the ball in the air and wraps the hold over the shoulder while simultaneously sticking both feet inbounds for the 26-yard touchdown.
Here’s a front view of the same play, showing Pickens’ ability to follow the football, catch, and some tiptoeing within the TD’s striking limits. It shows impressive spatial awareness and body control from Pickens and his first TD in the pros.
Pickens would get another reception in the contest before Pittsburgh decided they had seen enough and pulled him out for the rest of the night. At 10:25 in the second quarter, Rudolph takes the shotgun shot and looks towards Pickens at the top of your screen. Pickens pauses on the sideline on the out road as Rudolph fires the pass towards the sideline. Pickens catches as the defender tries to push him out of bounds. Pickens again shows his body control, spinning like a ballerina along the sideline as he hooks the pass and keeps both feet in bounds for the catch at PIT 39 for an eight-yard gain.
Overall, it was an impressive performance for Pickens in limited shots, showing he can gel with multiple QBs and exhibit the same traits he put into practice on an NFL stage. His ability to get separation in short spaces as well as get past defense is a key trait for drawing targets, something he will need to continue to show as he takes on some of the best corners of coverage in the league at certain times this season. .
Pickens also showed his spatial awareness to locate the ball and catch with defenders coming down on him, having body control of a smaller receiver to catch in bounds to complete the catching process. On top of that, Pickens showed he was more than willing as a blocker, getting physical with defensive backs and even linebackers and defensive linemen at times during the contest, living up to the teaching. from Frisman Jackson to be a more aggressive unit when it comes to sticking your face in the fan and picking up defenders to help you in the running game.
Pickens still has a lot he can work on in terms of the nuances of his run, but there’s a lot to like about his limited sample size on Saturday night. We shouldn’t be shocked to see Pickens fielding three receiver sets to start the regular season given what he’s done so far. Now he just needs to keep piling on some good practices and preseason contests to earn a high share as a bigger part of the Steelers passing game than assumed he would have been. recruit.
What do you think of George Pickens’ performance on Saturday night? Do you think he has demonstrated his ability and talent to play an important role in the passing game this season? Do you see him pushing for a high share in Week 1 of the regular season? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!