As the Pittsburgh Steelers are stumbling from one defeat to another, one of their players has managed to infuriate fans even more than the rest of the team does. In the Steelers Week 15 defeat at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts, George Pickens was blamed for not blocking for a teammate about to score and not trying hard enough. The 2022 second-round pick didn’t make things any easier for him when he explained he didn’t go all in for fear of getting injured.
Pickens Would Start in Week 16 despite His Lack of Effort
Despite Pickens’ mistake, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin won’t discipline the player, at least not for now. However, he said Pickens had a lot of growing up to do, both in football and life.
Tomlin confirmed Pickens would play against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 16, while also using the press conference on Wednesday to outline the team’s commitment to improving the development of players, particularly when it came to young talents they have recently drafted.
The incident that enraged Steelers fans happened when running back Jaylen Warren was sprinting towards the goal line and collided with three Indianapolis Colts defenders before hitting the ground one yard away from the goal line.
Pickens was close to Warren and could have made a block for him. However, he did nothing and even made things worse by moving so that he wouldn’t get rolled up under one of the Colts’ defenders.
After the game, Warren expressed his disappointment with Pickens, saying the young player did what he thought was best for him. The Steelers running back added that if it was him who was in that position, he would have blocked for his teammate.
Pickens – A Work in Progress
Pickens has always been considered a talented wide receiver, but NFL teams had their doubts about his character and record with injuries. That’s why he wasn’t chosen by anyone earlier in the 2022 NFL Draft and was selected by Pittsburgh Steelers only as a second-round pick.
Head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Pickens was “a work in progress” and that he didn’t expect any instant changes. Instead, he said they were aiming for continual improvement and admitted the young receiver didn’t help himself with his latest mistakes both on the field and during media duties. Tomlin also told reporters that the Pickens they saw wasn’t the same as the Pickens in the locker room and in his relationships with teammates.
The coach did say, though, that Pickens’ public relations skills could be instantly improved. He advised the player not to say things that attract unwanted attention, especially when he wasn’t doing his job well. In those situations, Tomlin thought it was best for Pickens to “keep his mouth shut.”