Anyone who follows Kenny Pickett on social media is aware of what the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback has been as much as this offseason. While he is had a bit of downtime, Pittsburgh’s quarterback has been largely engaged on his craft as he prepares for his second NFL season.
The first quarterback chosen in final yr’s NFL Draft, Pickett is pushed to construct off of what was a profitable rookie season. Along with engaged on his particular person recreation, Pickett obtained time in with a number of of his offensive teammates throughout a latest journey to Florida.
“I used to be planning on taking much more time without work, however I’ve by no means taken a number of time without work,” Pickett mentioned, through the staff’s web site. “I took a few days off, and I wasn’t performing myself, and my fiancée Amy was like, you have to get again to coaching.
“I’m simply comfortable doing this. I genuinely like doing it. I like being right here. In order to be nice it’s a must to have a love for the sport. I wish to be among the best. I do know what I’ve to do and there is a number of issues that we have to do as a staff to get us to our targets. I really feel prefer it all begins with me and my play. I’ve obtained to be the man that takes us there. I’m able to take it on.”
Pickett almost helped lead the Steelers to the playoffs final yr after after a 2-6 begin. The former Pitt Panthers standout shared what making the playoffs would have meant for him and his teammates had Pittsburgh certified for the match.
“I do not even suppose it is nearly my studying curve,” Pickett mentioned shortly after the staff’s season-ending win over the Browns. “I feel it is about taking part in for a championship. That’s what it is all about.
“We would have had a possibility if we had that likelihood. When you do not handle your individual enterprise, you do not management your individual future.”
Pickett and his teammates saved the religion till the very finish. Despite the gradual begin, Pickett and Co. managed to keep away from turning into Pittsburgh’s first staff to complete with a dropping file in 19 years. In the method, Pittsburgh noticed important progress from their rookie quarterback, who received his final 5 begins wherein he performed greater than two possessions. Two of Pickett’s three begins featured game-winning landing passes within the recreation’s remaining minute.
“It’s huge,” Pickett mentioned of his growth this previous season. “I felt just like the offense began to change into my very own the extra I used to be taking part in in it, taking actual possession of it as an alternative of simply form of taking part in catch-up after I obtained thrown in there a bit of bit earlier and I used to be simply nervous about executing the performs. And now I felt like I had every part at my disposal after I was coming to the road of scrimmage.
“I feel I made soar there within the studying curve. I wish to make that leap into Year 2 now.”
Pickett’s leap was sufficient to finish any hypothesis in regards to the Steelers’ quarterback place for 2023. Tomlin, throughout his end-of-year press convention, acknowledged that the Steelers have certainly discovered Ben Roethlisberger’s successor in Pickett, even when he is not a fan of the time period “franchise quarterback.”
“I do not know what you guys imply by franchise quarterback,” Tomlin mentioned. “Is he our QB1? Yes. But there’s a number of foolish duty that comes with that time period. Everybody thinks they have one, however not everyone has every person of that. He’s our beginning quarterback.”
Pickett is doing his half to ensure he is that man for the Steelers subsequent yr and properly into the longer term. He definitely does not thoughts placing within the work that comes with the territory. Pickett logged appreciable time contained in the staff’s facility in the course of the 2022 season.
“I’d be right here mighty early. And I left mighty late,” Pickett mentioned. “Showing up right here when it was darkish out and leaving when it is darkish is a bit of bit miserable. I used to be taking some vitamin D for certain.
“I do not observe the hours. I simply form of undergo how I want to organize after which no matter it finally ends up being, it finally ends up being. It could be about leaving the constructing after I felt good in regards to the day’s work, and I felt actually assured going into the sport.”
Pickett began the season because the Steelers’ third quarterback, behind veterans Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph. Pickett was elevated to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart going into the common season. He watched the Steelers’ first three video games from the sideline earlier than he was referred to as into motion at halftime of Pittsburgh’s Week 4 recreation towards the Jets.
Pickett gave Pittsburgh’s offense a direct spark upon taking the sector. He scored two touchdowns towards the Jets, however a pricey interception allowed New York to rally for a four-point win. Pickett threw for 327 yards in Buffalo every week later, however the Steelers had been on the unsuitable facet of a 38-3 rating. While a late interception overshadowed a stable effort by Pickett in Miami the next week, there weren’t many positives to remove after Pickett was sacked six occasions in a blowout loss to the Eagles in Week 8, a loss that dropped the Steelers to 2-6 going into their bye.
The Steelers, and their younger quarterback, seemed like a distinct staff after their Week 9 bye. Pittsburgh went 7-2 after the bye. The protection, energized by T.J. Watt’s return, held seven of their final eight opponents to lower than 20 factors. Pickett, after throwing eight interceptions in his first 5 video games, threw only one interception the rest of the season. He additionally endured much less punishment because the offensive line additionally noticed appreciable indicators of progress because the season progressed.
“We all the time knew what we had been able to,” Pickett mentioned. “It was good to see it come true in entrance of our eyes. Just discovering methods to win week in and week out, and nobody actually caring the way it will get carried out, simply discover a solution to get it carried out.
“That’s what it is all about is getting wins. It was actually good to see.”
Pickett was one in every of a number of rookies who contributed largely to the Steelers’ turnaround. George Pickens, together with making eye-raising catches on a routine foundation, led Pittsburgh in landing receptions. Undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren served as a stable complement for Najee Harris whereas incomes a task as Pittsburgh’s third down again. Connor Heyward made a number of clutch performs that included his huge third-down catch that arrange Pittsburgh’s remaining landing on Sunday. And whereas he missed time with an harm, defensive finish DeMarvin Leal made his presence felt when given the chance.
As good as Pittsburgh’s rookies had been in 2022, Tomlin is anxious to see what the group can do in 2023.
“We’ve obtained some high quality play from some younger guys, which is thrilling, however boy, there’s a number of meat on the bone, and we’re enthusiastic about being part of their course of, too,” Tomlin. “That’s one other part of our enterprise mannequin that we do not run away from, we run to, the event of gamers. To be a part of their progress and growth is important for us and for them.”
Like Tomlin, Pickett can be trying ahead to what he and his teammates can accomplish this season. He believes that final yr’s expertise and the work he is carried out this offseason ought to result in good issues for him and the Steelers.
“There had been so many new issues coming in (final season) that you may’t even put into this one interview that you are going by as a rookie quarterback within the NFL,” Pickett mentioned. “I simply obtained a lot extra comfy from the primary day I walked in right here to the final day of the season. It’s like night time and day. I felt like I’ve been right here for 2 or three years versus one season, how a lot time I’ve been round everyone. So having that groundwork, that base, the work within the offseason. I’m actually excited.”
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