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Rookie Report: Steelers vs Dolphins

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 7 – Miami Dolphins

Active Players

#8 Kenny Pickett (Round 1) – 75 offensive plays, 32-44, 257 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 66.2% completions, 3.23 ANY/A, 2 sacks for 11 yards, 3 carries for 20 yds, 1 tackle

Making his third start of the season Pickett continued to show growing pains. Statistically, other than the interceptions they don’t look that bad. One number that is troubling is his adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A). This number has gotten smaller in each start going from 5.42 to 4.83 to 3.23.

Adding on three more interceptions does not help his cause either. The first was a good decision with Chase Claypool one on one on the outside. Claypool got his feet tangled sending him to the ground causing the turnover. His second interception came on a third and long deep Curl to Diontae Johnson. He needs to get the ball out earlier and not stare down the receiver. The final interception in the end zone was not the optimal choice. He could have ran the ball or thrown it away. It looked like he was trying a back shoulder throw to the pylon. He and Johnson were not on the same page.

There were a few plays were he had a chance to push the ball farther downfield. Either he isn’t seeing it or the anticipation isn’t there yet. Here is a play where Pickens will run a deep over route. Johnson will run a deep route on the outside to clear out space. Once Pickens hits the right hash if Pickett leads him to the outside it’s a minimum of 15 yards and may go for a score.

He’s doing a lot of good things on the offense. He’s getting the ball out quickly and can move the offense with the short area passes. With more reps he should start to anticipate more and start making more plays downfield.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 218 offensive snaps, 87 – 127, 711 yards, 2 TD’s, 7 INT’s, 68.5%, 3.9 ANY/A, 6 sacks for 40 yards, 12 carries for 61 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 fumble

#14 George Pickens (Round 2) – 59 offensive plays, 6 targets, 6 receptions, 61 yards, 1 TD

This team seems to take their time getting Pickens going within the offense. His first target didn’t come until midway through the second quarter. Just another issue that is evident within this offense.

His route tree started out pretty diversified but late with the game on the line they limited what he was he was running. A high count of Go/Fade routes happened late in the game. Other than that the most popular routes for him were Curl and Comeback routes. These routes have led to his limited amount of yards after the catch. He is averaging just two yards after the catch because most of his receptions are either moving back toward the line of scrimmage or to the sideline.

Pickens made the most of his six targets catching all of them. The first pass was a sideline fade that gained 30 yards with 5 coming after the catch. His touchdown reception highlighted his impressive body control. Not only the twist behind him to make the catch but also get the feet down. The other four receptions came on a Quick Out, Quick In, a Deeper Out and a Curl. Each of those produced no yards after the catch.

My main question with him is his speed within his routes. He doesn’t look like he is always going at full speed. This was happening at different times in the game. And this doesn’t look like a varying of release speeds. It just looks like he isn’t fully accelerating off the line or within the route. The continual deep routes late in the game probably had him fatigued a bit but early in the game it shouldn’t happen.

They need to get him more balls in space where we can see what he can do after the catch.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 354 offensive snaps, 1 special team snap, 40 targets, 26 receptions, 338 yards, 13.0 YPR, 1 TD, 1 carry for 1 yard, 1 tackle

#83 Connor Heyward (Round 6) – 5 offensive snaps, 18 special team snaps, 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards

Heyward saw five snaps late in the game to spell Pat Freiermuth. There was a variety in the routes he was able to run. They included Seam, Drag, Curl and Deep Post routes.

His lone target came on a drag route behind the line of scrimmage where the outside linebacker stepped in his way and he promptly put him on the ground. He made the catch and gained about 8 yards after the catch.

He was in on one running play and he made a solid effort to block defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. The more reps he gets as a blocker the more comfortable he will be.

He was not involved in any tackles on special teams in punt or kick coverage.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 57 offensive snaps, 123 special teams snaps, 6 targets, 5 reception, 67 yards, 13.4 YPR, 2 tackles

#30 Jaylen Warren (UDFA) – 17 offensive snaps, 8 special teams snaps, 2 carries, 7 yards, 2 targets, 2 receptions, 17 yards

Warren was right in his normal range of snaps which is usually 12-23 plays. Seven of those snaps were on third or fourth down. Just three of those plays were designed running plays.

The first running play he was a lead blocker for Johnson on a fly sweep and got a nice push on a defensive back on the outside. On his first carry he made a nice cutback on an outside Zone run for a short gain. His second run came on a fourth and one carry. He plowed through for four yards continuing his success in these situations.

His pass routes again this week were basically all off of check releases. They included Swing, Wheel, Flat, Sneak, Screen and Stab routes. He received two targets and caught both of them. The first came on a screen. He does a nice job after the catch (16 on this play) and should be given more screen opportunities. The second catch came on a Stab where he tried to outrun a linebacker laterally and gained seven yards with three after the catch.

Warren was not involved in any tackle on kick coverage.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 143 offensive snaps, 64 special team’s snaps, 23 carries for 103 yards, 4.5 YPA, 11 targets, 9 receptions, 63 yards, 7.0 YPR, 2 tackles, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 tackles

Inactive for Week 2 – #93 Mark Robinson (Round 7)

Practice Squad – #68 William Dunkle (UDFA PHI), #87 Rodney Williams (UDFA DEN), #96 David Anenih (UDFA TEN)

Reserve/Injured – #98 DeMarvin Leal (Round 3), #19 Calvin Austin (Round 4), #30 Carlins Platel (UDFA)

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