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Matt Canada On George Pickens’ Usage: ‘I’m Not Sure Everybody Is Going To Get The Ball As Much As They Want Every Week’

On Thursday, Pittsburgh Steelers OC Matt Canada spoke to the media prior to practice and was asked about the state of his offense and the team’s upcoming matchup at home against the division-rival Baltimore Ravens this coming Sunday.

When Austin was asked about rookie WR George Pickens who was visibly frustrated about his lack of involvement in the passing game last week against the Atlanta Falcons and how they may try and get him the ball more, Canada was pretty blunt that Pickens may not always get what he wants given the current state of the Steelers offense and the other mouths to feed in the passing game.

“I’m not sure everybody is going to get the ball as much as they want every week,” Canada said to the media Thursday on video from Jeff Hathhorn’s Twitter page. “We got Pat [Freiermuth], we got Tae [Johnson}, we got George [Pickens], and we got some other guys in there. Gentry, Steve [Sims], Gunner {Olszewski]. We got some guys who all probably want to catch some passes, plus the backs out of the backfield, plus we want to run the ball. I know it probably looks really, really easy, but to do that all the time and get everybody the ball and have a running game and all those things, it’s all dictated by the game.”

Alex Kozora just posted a piece breaking down why Pickens wasn’t involved more this past Sunday against the Falcons on offense, pointing to various reasons like not playing a full allotment of snaps to getting used more in the slot when he was on the field. Still, for Pickens who played 44 snaps against Atlanta to see only two targets and catch one pass for two yards on the game is an indictment on lack of scheming up opportunities to get him the ball more or at least on patterns where he sees a favorable matchup to draw targets from QB Kenny Pickett.

While Canada is correct in saying that guys may not be able to get the ball all the time based on various circumstances happening in-game, Pickens shouldn’t be seeing the same number of targets in the passing game as Steven Sims or Jaylen Warren. The fact of the matter is that Pickens is Pittsburgh’s most talented WR when it comes to physical gifts and raw upside. Sure, he’s not the refined route runner that Diontae Johnson is, but he has maximized his targets better this season as a rookie than Johnson who ranks in the top in in targets in the NFL, he is 40th in receiving yards with 565.

This is a weak answer from Canada, who may have a point in saying that players may not get the ball as much as they want every single week, but shouldn’t be comparing Pickens to the likes of what Pittsburgh is putting in the slot at WR, TE Zach Gentry, or the running backs out of the backfield. Pickens does have some growing up to do and needs to continue to develop as a well-rounded WR, but he possesses the traits to be a WR1 in the league if given the opportunity. You don’t see the Lions taking away targets from Amon-Ra St. Brown to distribute to lesser receiving options or the Bengals doing the same with Ja’Marr Chase.

This isn’t to say that Pickens will ever be on the same level as a player of Chase’s caliber, but these teams have recognized the talent they have in their young WRs and have made it a priority to get them involved in the passing game. While this offense is still evolving with a rookie QB under center, why does the usage of Pickens in Pittsburgh’s passing game need to be any different?

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