On Wednesday, WR Diontae Johnson spoke to the media about the team’s upcoming matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals and his personal mindset about competing down the stretch of the 2022 season.
When asked about QB Kenny Pickett’s development thus far in 2022 and what has specifically stuck out to him, Johnson stated that his mental fortitude and dedication to get better every day are a couple things that he notices regularly from Pickett.
“Really just decision making,” Johnson said about Pickett’s improvement to the media Wednesday on video from Steelers.com. “You see it at practice. I mean, like I say, you practice how you play, and I feel like his preparation throughout the week is continuously showing up on film and we just got to continue to be there for him and just be around him. Just continue to make him look good whether it’s a good throw or bad throw. Just continue to stay on him, not stay on him in a bad way, you know, a positive way. Just if he gets down on himself, just pick him up.”
Pickett has notably done a better job in terms of his decision making and cutting down on his turnovers in recent weeks. While he lost a fumble in Pittsburgh’s Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, he hasn’t thrown any INTs the last two games after throwing eight picks in his first five games to start his NFL career. Pickett mentioned taking what the defense gave him after Pittsburgh’s loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football where he threw two costly fourth quarter INTs which effectively lost the Steelers the game. Since then, he has done a better job judging when to take his shots and when to live for another down.
Pickett also put an emphasis on the rest of the team needing to improve their practice habits and watch more film to avoid self-imposed errors in-game as well as improve overall execution out on the field. While Pickett was anything from spectacular Sunday against the Saints, he did do a better job managing the game in which Pittsburgh’s offense held possession for over 39 minutes, moving the offense into scoring position while also showing off his legs on a couple of scrambles to capitalize on what New Orleans defense was giving him on the ground.
Any quarterback is expected to go through the highs and lows throughout a 17-game NFL season. That’s especially the case for Pickett who is getting his first exposure to the speed of the NFL game as a rookie, experiencing a “trial by fire” induction to the league as the Pittsburgh Steelers try and battle back into relevancy down the stretch. Johnson sees the importance of speaking confidence and trust into his rookie signal caller, something that Pickett has surely felt and appreciated coming from Pittsburgh’s top wide receiver.