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Rookie Report: Steelers vs Saints

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 positives 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 10 – New Orleans Saints

Active Players

#8 Kenny Pickett (Round 1) – 84 offensive snaps, 18-30, 199 yards, 60% completions, 79.7 rating, 6 sacks for 37 yards, 6.63 AY/A, 8 carries, 51 yards, 1 TD

The maturation of Pickett continues showing some good, and some not-so-good. He took six more sacks giving him 12 in the last two games. His first pass of the game was thrown behind an open receiver on what could have been a big gain. He nearly threw an interception on his fifth attempt a throw that came out late. He missed some wide-open receivers including a deep crossing route to Diontae Johnson on the play he threw into triple coverage to Pat Freiermuth.

Here you see Johnson from the slot with a lot of space crossing the field but Picket throws to the other side.

It wasn’t all bad though. On a couple of plays against a Cover 0 blitz he made the right read. The blitzer came from over the top of Gunner Olszewski twice. Pickett looked for him to turn it into a hot route but Olszewski missed it both times. His best throw of the game was on an Out and Up to Najee Harris that fell incomplete. He showed nice touch and placement on the ball that bounced off of Harris’ hands.

He showed good mobility and had a couple of key runs. There were instances when he left the pocket early looking a little antsy. He and the offense were able to sustain drive most of the day. Just one three and out on the day. It was good to see him help get the team back in the win column.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 378 offensive snaps, 130-195, 1,161 yards, 2 TD, 8 INT, 66.7%, 68.8 rating, 18 sacks for 115 yards, 4.3 AY/A, 27 carries, 149 yards, 3 TD

#14 George Pickens (Round 2) – 63 offensive snaps, 4 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards, 8 YPC, 2 carries, 23 yards, 1 TD

Pickens played 75% of the snaps with a diverse route tree. His most common routes this week included the Dig (7) Post (6) and Go (6) routes.

His first target came on the first play on a Drive route where he had created a lot of space but the ball was thrown well behind him. Target number two was his first reception on a Comeback route making a contested catch and adding six yards after the catch. Reception number two came in the scramble drill. After running a slant, he reversed back to the outside to work with his quarterback. He made the short catch and tacked on two yards. The third catch came on a Slant. This one was also contested and he got up the field for an additional six yards.

Pickens added two productive runs. The first came on a play formerly run by Chase Claypool and was designed to get to the pylon. Pickens said he saw the goal line and just dove. His second carry came on an orbit sweep; he used a good block from Freiermuth and hit it for 22 yards. He also contributed a nice block on the backside defensive end.

Pickens from the right side will surprise the defensive end and knock him to the ground.

Look for his role to expand in the second half of the season.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 482 offensive snaps, 47 targets, 29 receptions, 370 yards, 1 TD, 12.8 YPR, 3 carries, 24 yards, 1 TD

#83 Connor Heyward (Round 6) – 17 Offensive snaps, 15 special team snaps, 2 targets, 2 receptions, 9 yards

Heyward received his second-highest snap total of the season. Most of it came in two-play increments over the course of the game.

In the passing game, he ran a few routes including a couple of Curl routes, a Corner route and Flat routes. He received two targets and caught them both. The first he did a great job just to hold onto the ball getting drilled right after the catch. I thought there could have been a crown of the helmet penalty there but they didn’t call it. His second reception was a big play. On second down near their own end zone he made the catch in the flat, made a guy miss adding seven yards to make it a third and short play that was converted.

He had a couple of pass protection reps against Cam Jordan and showed good effort and solid sustain. There’s work to be done in that area but not bad in this game.

In the run game, he was used primarily on slide blocks on Gap runs. He is supposed to get across the formation and kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage. He needs to be a little quicker. The defenders were getting inside him. He also used him to fold inside and lead block on the linebacker which showed some potential.

He was not involved in any tackles on special teams.

I liked the adjustment by Heyward here. Dan Moore has the end man on the line. The safety gets too deep so Heyward turns it up to take on the linebacker. Good read and adjustment on the fly.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 81 Offensive snaps, 157 Special team snaps, 8 targets, 7 receptions, 76 yards, 10.9 YPR, 4 tackles, 1 solo

#30 Jaylen Warren (UDFA) 36 offensive snaps, 8 special team snaps, 9 carries, 37 yards, 4.11 YPC, 3 targets, 3 receptions, 40 yards

Warren saw his second-highest number of snaps on offense. They even ran two plays with him and Harris on the field at the same time. Getting mixed in more often seemed to keep Harris fresh as well. In the run game, Warren was used on a lot of Gap scheme runs that were not blocked very well. He managed to push for two or three on most of the carries. His biggest run came late in the game and gave him his longest carry of the season. He avoided a defender four yards deep in the backfield, hurdles a tackler and hit it up the sideline for 20 yards.

In the passing game, he was used primarily out of the backfield but did run one route from the slot. It was a slot fade but most of his routes were of the Swing, Stab, Flat and Cut variety. His first reception came on a Swing pass. He adjusted up for the ball and added six yards after the catch. His second reception he released up the middle and Cut to the outside. Catching the ball in stride, he used a nice hesitation to freeze the linebacker and turned the corner adding 26 yards after the catch. Pass protection was solid again making a couple of nice pickups on the safety blitzing off the edge.

He was not involved in any special teams tackles.

Warren getting across the formation to kick out the blitzer.

 

2022 Regular Season Totals – 201 offensive snaps, 82 special team snaps, 38 carries, 190 yards, 5.0 YPC, 17 targets, 15 receptions, 128 yards, 8.5 YPR, 3 tackles, 2 solo

 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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