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2022 South Side Questions: How Will George Pickens Respond After Frustrating Day In Atlanta?

The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.

There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.

Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.

There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.

Question: How will George Pickens respond after his visible frustration in Sunday’s game?

The Steelers scored on their opening possession. The defense never played a single snap in the entire game without having a lead. The Atlanta Falcons did manage to make it a little bit interesting in the second half, granted, but this was a wall-to-wall victory. The Steelers don’t get many wins in general, let alone ones like this.

Yet winning as a team wasn’t quite enough yesterday for rookie wide receiver George Pickens, who at multiple times during the game was alternately frustrated, angry, or upset, the chief explanation appearing to be the dearth of targets he was receiving.

A second-round pick out of Georgia, Pickens has already proven to be an NFL talent, albeit one who is continuing to learn and grow and is not free from mistakes. He has over 500 receiving yards on the season and only he and running back Najee Harris have more than one receiving touchdown.

Yet he was only targeted twice during the game, and he didn’t appear to handle it very well. There was a time in the second half following a drive when team captain Cameron Heyward even came over and had a talk with him, but that didn’t prevent another little outburst still later in the game.

Head coach Mike Tomlin was not asked about Pickens or his sideline behavior after the game, although a teammate or two—certainly quarterback Kenny Pickett—did have to field a question or two on the subject. The receiver himself declined a request for an interview after the game—to little surprise.

What happened, happened. What comes next is what matters. How does he respond to this game? He wasn’t getting targeted early in the year and he was handling it better than this. Under ideal circumstances, of course, you want to see him targeted more. But you also want to see him show some more maturity and hope that it doesn’t impact his performance or his practice habits. There are plenty of targets yet to come his way if he can remain patient.

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