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Kenny Pickett: Offense Hitting Timing Throws ‘I Don’t Think We Would Have Been Making Earlier In The Year’

It would be a mistake to come into the NFL thinking that you’re already a master of your craft, or that you won’t be presented with a learning curve as you adapt to a higher level of competition, playing those across the board who are at the same skill level as you.

The transition from the college level to the pros hasn’t been eye-opening or anything for Pittsburgh Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett, but he has certainly been acutely aware of it. “I came in with high expectations” about the rise in difficulty, he said yesterday via the team’s website, and “it definitely met those.”

“I have to be on point, the guys have to be on point with where they’re getting in depth route-wise and timing and all that stuff,” he added. “It all works together, so if one guy’s a little off, it probably won’t go our way, so that’s what we’re trying to get.”

Complicating such matters is the fact that he spent all of the offseason operating as either the Steelers’ number two or number three quarterback. And he acknowledges that that in itself, not getting that starter’s experience in practice and in games, has been its own learning curve.

“It’s tighter windows in the NFL and you have to know how to throw each ball differently. You can’t throw the same ball for every route or every situation,” he said. “It’s just learning that and timing with the guys.

“There was a lot of timing throws out there in the past couple weeks that I don’t think we would have been making earlier in the year with the less time I had with these guys. It’s something we’re gonna continue to build on, but definitely have seen improvement so far.”

Timing throws like, perhaps, the interior routes that they were running and targeting more on Sunday, their first game after the bye week. It takes an accumulation of experience working with somebody to get comfortable with the rhythm necessary to attempt tight-window throws against an NFL defense.

In earlier weeks, Pickett has talked about how he has worked after practice with many of his pass catchers to build that kind of timing. He said it wasn’t so much something that he necessarily initiated, but was rather a mutual desire to start establishing that required rapport.

We may be starting to see the fruits of that extra labor now. They didn’t necessarily put in extra on-field work during the bye week—almost everybody talked about getting away from the game during the bye and the importance of resetting—but simple observation tells us that they are both running and attacking the types of routes that are most often associated with ‘timing’. That’s a valuable development moving forward.

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