Matt Canada Says More Targets Are Coming For Pickens: ‘George Is A Big-Time Player’

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens has quickly become a fan favorite due to his ability to seemingly catch almost anything that is thrown in his direction. On the season Pickens has hauled in 42 passes on 69 targets for 632 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad numbers by any means, but that still hasn’t stopped Steelers Nation from questioning why he hasn’t been targeted more often.

In his weekly press conference with the media, transcribed by the Steelers, offensive coordinator Matt Canada was asked if the next step in George Pickens’ evolution as a NFL player was to run more routes in the middle of the field.

Yeah, I mean, we had – I’m sure you saw it when you watched him –one in the middle of field that the safety kind of came down and made a play on,” Canada answered. “We had a couple of those opportunities. They’re there. They don’t get noticed until we get the ball thrown and caught or targeted to him, but I think his route tree has continued to evolve. George is a big-time player, and we’ll continue to get him more and more. I think he had five targets last week.”

On the season, Pickens has seen most of his targets come near the sideline on go-routes. One reason Steelers’ quarterbacks have targeted him so much on the boundary is that he has an innate ability to track the football, keep his feet in bounds, and jump over defensive backs. Just this past weekend, he made a really impressive catch on the sideline on a deep throw from Mitch Trubisky.

However, if Pickens is going to develop into an elite receiver he will have to be more effective in route running and getting open in the middle of the field. Pickens has struggled to get open and create separation, having an average of 2.4 yards of separation between him and the nearest defender at the time of catching a pass. It shows how good of a combat catcher Pickens is, but it also shows that he has struggled getting very open.

Canada, though, says that over the season Pickens has improved in the route running department.

George’s continuing to become a more efficient route runner.”

Luckily, Pickens has the most important aspect of a receiver down, and that is catching the football. Over time he will learn how to become a better route runner and get open more often and make it easier for quarterback Kenny Pickett to find him in the middle of the field.

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