George Pickens has garnered a lot of positive attention for his preseason work with the Steelers, but Mike Tomlin wants to calm all that down.
Much of the talk surrounding the Steelers’ preseason has been on the team’s young offensive talent. Wide receiver George Pickens has arguably been Pittsburgh’s biggest surprise. Predictably, head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t interested in giving his new playmaker any plaudits before the games begin to actually count.
The good news for Pickens is that he already is being listed by Tomlin as a first-string wide receiver early in the preseason. The bad news for the former Georgia standout is that Tomlin doesn’t spend much energy formulating depth charts in August.
The veteran head coach responded to questions about whether or not Pickens being listed as a starter was a “testament” to his work during the preseason by wryly responding that it was simply a product of being required to submit a depth chart. In other words, Steelers fans shouldn’t get too hyped up about what Pickens will be able to contribute when Week 1 rolls around.
Steelers: George Pickens with first team offense because Mike Tomlin had to release a depth chart, or so the coach says
On the other hand, Pickens does have a golden opportunity to earn his way into the regular-season starting lineup for a Steelers offense that is very much in transition. Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson are nailed-on starters for Tomlin but the third receiver spot is definitely up for grabs. Pickens only needs to fend off the likes of Anthony Miller and Calvin Austin if he wants to seize that spot for his own.
The bigger question for Pittsburgh will be who will throw the passes to Pickens and his peers when the regular season begins. Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph are both listed ahead of rookie Kenny Pickett on the team’s depth chart at the moment. It’s likely only a matter of time until Pickett gets his chance to become Ben Roethlisberger’s long-term replacement.
Steelers fans can comfortably expect Tomlin to continue to downplay Pickens’ play for the foreseeable future. The last thing he wants is another diva wide receiver to develop on his watch. Keeping Pickens’ ego in check will continue to be a big priority for the Steelers’ grizzled head coach.
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