At the conclusion of Thursday’s training camp practice, Mike Tomlin took to the podium to answer questions by the media ranging from the performance of the quarterbacks to the turnovers he’s seen on the football field due to the weather conditions with the rain coming through Latrobe today.
When asked about rookie WRs George Pickens and Calvin Austin III and what he’s seen so far from them both, Tomlin offered a bit of praise but also stated the ability to overcome adversity as a key component he’s looking for as they get their feet wet in their first NFL training camp action.
“Yeah, they’re doing a really good job,” Tomlin said when referencing the performance of Pickens and Austin thus far through two practices via video from the team’s website. “They’re getting an opportunity to get some reps. There’s some mistakes, but that’s part of the process. Do they not make the same mistake twice? How do they learn from those mistakes, and when they’re less than certain, do they still play at full speed? I think those are certain things that you look for at the wide receiver position and they’re getting an opportunity to learn those lessons and display their skills.”
Thanks to the hold in of WR Diontae Johnson, both Pickens and Austin have seen more opportunities on the field, particularly Pickens, who was running with the first-team offense, rotating in with Cody White at Diontae’s spot. Those extra reps both in individual and team sessions are great opportunities for both Pickens and Austin to get exposure to NFL coverage and the speed of play of an NFL defense. Hopefully with the more reps they get, the faster they can both acclimate to the NFL game and be ready to contribute as soon as possible in 2022.
Tomlin also referenced the ability for both young rookies to overcome the mistakes they make and if they can play full speed even if they don’t know exactly what is going on. The mental component of the game is a huge predictor of success in sports. If you can’t flush a mistake after you make it, it can eat you up inside and lead to a tidal wave of more mistakes if you’re not careful. You often hear coaches say, “Recognize your mistake, learn from it, then flush it.”
That is exactly what Tomlin for here with both Pickens and Austin to see if they respond positively to mistakes and don’t let one bad blunder resurface again and again. If you can mess up once and not mess up doing the same thing again, that’s growth. Both Pickens and Austin will be expected to play fast as the new additions to the team, bringing a speed element to the WR core the team hasn’t had in some time. The sooner they have that confidence in their ability to execute that which they learn here in training camp, the sooner we can see them in the lineup making big plays.