Much has been made this week about the obvious frustration that rookie WR George Pickens expressed last Sunday in Atlanta in Pittsburgh’s road game against the Falcons. The receiver finished with only one catch for two yards and was evidently disgruntled with his lack of usage in the passing game in the 19-16 win.
Despite the headline the incident has been made out to be in the media, Pickens stated yesterday that the media is blowing the whole thing out of proportion as it is usual for talented receivers to want the football. HC Mike Tomlin and QB Kenny Pickett came to Pickens’ defense as well the last couple of days, calling Pickens a competitor that just wants to help his team win and knows that his involvement in the passing game can contribute to those efforts.
DL Cam Heyward was asked about his conversation with Pickens on the sideline Sunday as he tried to calm down the frustrated wide receiver. When he was asked if it’s normal for players to have visible frustrations on the sidelines, Heyward responded saying that the Pickens incident isn’t a rare occurrence for what is an emotional game.
“Yeah, that happens all the time,” Heyward said to the media regarding Pickens’ flare up on the sideline Sunday against the Saints on video from 93.7 The Fan’s Josh Rowntree’s Twitter page. “Whether it’s me or another guy or another guy talking with me, so be it. I don’t think we really need to make anything more of it. We just, as a team, you are there for your guys and vice versa they’re there for you.”
Heyward mentioned earlier this week on his podcast that Pickens needed a “pick-me-up” and that he is always going to have his teammate’s back. Heyward, who was battling his own emotions in that game being back in the place where his father is buried, understands how emotions can affect a player’s mindset and performance on the field. While Pickens to better control his emotions going forward, he is only 21 years old in his rookie season and has always had an edge in terms of the passion and fire he plays the game with.
Tomlin commended Pickens for his desire to want to make plays, understanding emotions are a part of the game. Heyward iterates the same thing here, saying that players get emotional often on the sidelines whether it be due to a lack of involvement, a bad play, or other external factors happening throughout the game. It’s good to see the Steelers baking their young receiver in this moment. They aren’t praising his actions Sunday, but they aren’t condemning him either. For a player like Pickens who is still trying to find his footing in his first season in the league, it must be a reassuring feeling knowing that the core members of the team have your back as the locker room tries to stay together down the stretch.