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Rookie Report: Steelers vs Patriots

Throughout the season following each game I will be taking a look at the rookies and how they fared each week. This will consist of thoughts such as the positive and negatives from that game, areas to watch or work on and clips to support what I’m sharing. Hopefully, this will shed some insight on some things you may or may not have seen.

Week 2 – New England Patriots

Active Players

#8 Kenny Pickett (Round 1)

Did not see any action but was the number two quarterback for the second consecutive week.

2022 Regular Season Totals – None

#14 George Pickens (Round 2) – 50 offensive snaps, 3 targets, 1 reception for 23 yards, 1 tackle

It was more of the same for Pickens unfortunately. Once again the vast majority of his routes were on the deep level. Adding up the Corner, Fade, Go, Post, Wheel, Deep In and Seam routes accounted for twenty-seven routes. The other routes included Comeback, Curl, Out, Shallow Cross and a flat route from motion. Total I counted eight of the shallow/intermediate routes. They are making it easy for cornerbacks to cover him.

His targets include a fade late in Q2 which was his only catch tracking the ball nicely over his shoulder. The others were on a Hail Mary and a Go route with the ball thrown well behind him. On the Out route he ran it seemed like there was a little more pep in his route because it wasn’t the norm he has been asked to do. Run a slant, a quick out or even a wide receiver screen to get him involved early so the defenders can’t just play off of him for most of the game.

He was credited with the tackle on the interception forcing the defender out of bounds

2022 Regular Season Totals – 95 snaps, 6 targets, 2 receptions, 26 yards, 1 tackle

#98 DeMarvin Leal (Round 3) – 16 defensive snaps 2 tackles, 1 solo, 1 pass break up

In the absence of T.J. Watt, Leal saw his role change it a bit. He played primarily on the edge in a two point stance. His best play of the day was recognizing the short pass to his side and getting a paw out there to knock it down. On other passing plays, he didn’t generate much pressure but showed good hand placement on his power rushes. He also tried a rip around the edge early in the game. One of his tackles came on a pass to the outside showing good hustle to chase to the sideline.

Against the run, he was solid overall. His tackles came on runs that went away from him and again showed good hand placement went taking on blockers and good pursuit to chase the ball. I would like to see him get off blocks a little quicker particularly against tight ends but that was his first go-round as a stand-up Edge so we have to give him a little leeway. Solid game overall.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 33 defensive snaps, 2 special team snaps, 3 tackles, 1 solo, 1 pass breakup

Good recognition by Leal on these two plays. The first play he’s on the left edge and recognized the throw coming his way and makes a play on the ball. In the second play, he’s on the right and works back to the outside to get in on the tackle.

#83 Connor Heyward (Round 6) – 4 offensive snaps, 16 special teams snaps

All of Heyward’s action in week two came in 13 personnel as the third tight end. He was lined up on the outside of the two tight end side of the formation and was primarily a backside blocker. As a blocker, he displayed good effort and solid hand placement. He could use a little work getting his feet around to keep himself between himself between the defender and the ball carrier.

On special teams, there were no Steeler kick returns so there were no chances to block there. On punt cover, he did a solid job as a blocker before releasing downfield. His lone tackle came in the end zone on the muffed punt early in the game. On kick coverage, he was not involved in any tackles.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 5 offensive snaps, 38 special team snaps, 1 assist tackle

#30 Jaylen Warren (UDFA) – 17 offensive snaps, 8 special team snaps, 4 carries, 15 yards, 1 reception for 0 yards, 1 assisted tackle

Warren again played a Najee Harris’ understudy. Overall, he was solid as a ball carrier. His first run was a Zone run to the right. He made a good decision on his cut and gained four. His second run was through a big hole up the middle cutting off the block of Pat Freiermuth for six yards. Run number three was a sweep to the left where there were three defenders. He lowered his shoulder falling forward for two. The final run, late in the third quarter was a Zone left run where he again made a decisive cut pushing forward for three.

In the passing game, he handled his blocking assignments with a nice pickup on a looping rusher from the outside. He also chipped on the outside, helping the tackles, on a few plays before releasing. All of his routes were check releases making sure to fulfill any blocking assignment before heading on his route. They were to the stab, sneak and flat routes. He also ran a fade when lined up outside. His one reception was on release to the outside and was hit immediately for no gain.

On kick coverage, he showed off his physicality stunning a blocker into the returner’s lane allowing a teammate to tackle. He also made a tackle beginning as a force player on the outside before circling back to make the assist on a tackle.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 40 offensive snaps, 19 special team snaps, 7 carries for 22 yards, 2 targets, 1 reception, 0 yards, 1 assist tackle

Here are his kick coverage clips. His is the second from the bottom on the first clip and will engage the up blocker clogging the return lane. On the second, he is second from the left and will spin back inside to get in on the tackle.

 

Inactive for Week 2 – #93 Mark Robinson (Round 7), #96 David Anenih (UDFA TEN)

Practice Squad – #68 William Dunkle (UDFA PHI), #87 Rodney Williams (UDFA DEN)

Reserve/Injured – #19 Calvin Austin (Round 4), #30 Carlins Platel (UDFA)

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