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‘He Prepared Just Like A Starter’: Pickett Praises J.C. Hassenauer’s Readiness

On Wednesday, QB Kenny Pickett spoke to the media regarding last week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals and gave his perspective on this week’s upcoming game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Pickett was asked about backup center J.C Hassenauer who came in relief of starter Mason Cole who left the game the game in the first half due to injury and how he fared coming off the bench.

“Yeah, so I had a lot of work with J.C. [Hassenauer] early on,” Pickett said to the media Wednesday on video from Steelers.com. “Obviously, we have a lot of rapport and a great relationship from working the pre-season and spring and everything. So, when he came in, he did an unbelievable job. Like he prepared just like a starter. He’s in here as long as everybody else that’s a starter. So, when he came in, we didn’t skip a beat and we worked really well together.”

As Tyler Wise pointed out in a film room highlighting Hassenauer’s play against the Bengals, the backup OL represented himself well in his first extensive snaps of the season, playing 41 snaps after only playing five offensive snaps in the Steelers’ first nine games in 2022 Hassenauer graded out as one of the five best offensive players with a grade of 67.2 per Pro Football Focus.

Pickett depicted Hassenauer’s role well as a “starter in-waiting”, talking about how he prepares like a starter and practices like a starter to be ready when his number is called. It was called on Sunday against the Bengals, and while not the most impressive athlete, Hassenauer delivered as you would expect a quality backup center in the NFL should, making the most of his opportunity and helping his team stay in a close battle with their division rival.

Hassenauer mentioned the same difficulty of preparing to be the starter, yet knowing you are the backup earlier this week when interviewed following the game. To his credit, he represented himself well and may need to be ready to start come Sunday with Cole still on the mend from a foot injury that has hampered him all season. It wouldn’t be a new experience for Hassenauer who has started seven games for Pittsburgh over the last few seasons. While it would be bitter sweet having Cole miss Monday night’s game against the Colts, Hassenauer would have another opportunity to show Pittsburgh as well as the rest of the league while on primetime that he is capable when called upon.

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