Kenny Pickett Pleased With Progress Of Extended Plays: ‘Gives Us More Opportunity At Explosives’

One of the key traits that attracted the Pittsburgh Steelers to former Pitt Panthers star quarterback Kenny Pickett in the 2022 NFL Draft was his prudent use of mobility and his overall ability to extend plays with his legs, allowing his receivers to work open downfield, which could lead to explosive plays.

Early on in his career with the Steelers, he’s been able to extend plays with his legs and has really added an element to the Steelers offense under second-year coordinator Matt Canada. One area that struggled though was the offense’s ability to take advantage downfield of those extended plays from Pickett.

So, the Steelers went back to the drawing board and really put in work on the scramble drill as Pickett worked with receivers George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, Steven Sims and Gunner Olszewski, as well as tight end Pat Freiermuth.

Coming out of the bye week, the Steelers and Pickett specifically have looked rather strong on extended plays. That continued in Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals at Acrisure Stadium as Pickett made some plays on the move, though he was one play he’d love to have back, missing Pickens wide open on the scramble in the end zone. While the play wouldn’t have counted due to a holding call, it was a a poor miss from the rookie.

Fortunately, Pickett bounced back and made some great throws on the run to Pat Freiermuth late in the first half and found rookie running back Jaylen Warren out of the backfield earlier in the game after buying time with his legs.

Speaking with reporters after the game, Pickett stated that he felt good with the progress the Steelers made against the Bengals on extended plays offensively after putting in extra work to try and develop chemistry on those types of plays.

“Yeah, we’ve done a lot more scramble drill and I think it showed today,” Pickett said following the loss, according to video via the Steelers official YouTube page. “I think it continues to improve and I can continue to extend plays and give those guys more time to get open down the field and give us more opportunity to have those explosive plays.”

That chemistry and overall feel for what his receivers are going to do on extended plays certainly showed on Sunday night at Acrisure Stadium. Pickett had a good feel for what to look for, rarely dropped his eyes to the rush and consistently made plays downfield.

The throw to Freiermuth late in the first half on the move to his left was a great sign of the growth and development the rookie quarterback has made extending plays. The miss to Pickens though, that was one that really stuck out in a bad way. He wants that one back, no doubt. That’s a throw any NFL quarterback has to make.

The good news is though, the Steelers have that extended play element back in their offense after the final seasons of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, no disrespect to the Hall of Famer at all. Having a quarterback behind center that can use his legs to extend plays and search downfield for explosive plays could be a significant addition to the Steelers offense down the stretch.

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