Rookie Report: Steelers vs Ravens

Throughout the season following each game I will be taking a look at the rookies and how they fared each week. This will consist of thoughts such as the positives and negatives from that game, areas to watch or work on, and clips to support what I’m sharing. Hopefully, this will shed some insight into some things you may or may not have seen.

Week 14 – Baltimore Ravens

Active Players

#8 Kenny Pickett (Round 1) – 8 offensive snaps, 0-1 passing, 0 yards, 1 sack for 7 yards, 2 carries for 16 yards

Pickett made his ninth consecutive start but it was short-lived. While he was in there wasn’t a lot to report. Half the plays were running plays and the passing plays gained nothing.

The first play had all five receivers run routes between four and six yards and all were covered leading to a short scramble. The next play was also a pass play that had him scrambling again up the right sideline gaining 13 yards. After a couple of runs, the third pass play ended in a sack. The play led to Pickett being checked out in the medical tent but he was able to return.

The next series started with two running plays leaving a third down and four. Pickett tried to dump it off Jaylen Warren but the ball was deflected. That was Pickett’s final play.

He went into concussion protocol and his availability for next week is in jeopardy.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 593 offensive snaps, 191 – 294, 1,797 yards, 65.0 Comp%, 4 TD, 8 INT, 4.26 ANY/A, 24 sacks, 161 yards, 44 carries, 225 yards, 3 TD, 3 fumbles

#14 George Pickens (Round 2) – 42 offensive snaps, 3 targets, 3 receptions, 78 yards

Pickens started for the eighth time in his career. The Steelers have consistently used him between 70% and 86% of the snaps in every game. Unfortunately, this was his fifth game of the season with three or fewer targets.

His route tree was dominated again with deep routes, mostly Go’s and Fade’s. Other routes that were often run included the Dig, Comeback and Drive.

His first target was a big play, a 42-yard reception on a slightly underthrown ball from Mitchell Trubisky. It was his longest reception of the season and the third longest for the team in 2022. Trubisky went right back to him on the next play on a Fade to the end zone. The ball fell incomplete but did draw a defensive pass interference that led to the first touchdown.

His second reception came on a back-shoulder throw down the left sideline. He adjusted nicely back to the ball and used his strong hands to haul in the 25-yard pass. His final reception was on a Dig route and he went low to pluck the ball off the turf for the catch.

His blocking was average at best overall with minimal effort and effectiveness. He has a tendency to not run all of his routes at full speed. I’m not sure why he chooses to do this but it is something I have noticed.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 685 offensive snaps, 2 special team snaps, 64 targets, 40 receptions, 590 yards, 14.8 YPR, 2 TD, 3 drops, 3 carries for 24 yards, 1 TD

#98 DeMarvin Leal (Round 3) – 9 defensive snaps, 6 special teams snaps

Leal was used sparingly and spent all but one of his snaps lined up as an outside linebacker. His motor was good and showed good pursuit all over the field. It did not yield any tackles, however. On the edge, his job is to not let anything outside of him. Most of the running plays went away from him but one did come his way and he, along with Terrell Edmunds, gave up the edge leading to a big run.

From the outside linebacker position, he was tasked with covering the fullback in the flat on one play. His lone pass rush came from the defensive tackle position. He engaged the left guard and got a minimal push on him but held his ground. T.J. Watt ended up getting a sack on the play.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 112 defensive snaps, 25 special team snaps, 9 tackles, 5 solo, 1 TFL, 3 pass break ups

#83 Connor Heyward (Round 6) – 11 offensive snaps, 12 special team snaps, 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards

Heyward saw double-digit offensive snaps for the third consecutive game and sixth time this season. Six of his snaps were passing plays including his last four on the final touchdown drive. His pass routes include a Drag to the flat, deep Out, Post, shallow Cross and two Dig routes.

His lone target came on a Dig route on that touchdown drive. He showed guts going up in the air over the middle knowing he would take a hit. He made a nice catch and absorbed the hit for a nice 13-yard gain.

In the running game, he was used primarily on slide blocks coming across the formation to kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage. He had another where he turned inside to take on the linebacker. He was tentative on all decelerating into contact. A little more aggressiveness might do him some good.

On the first touchdown run, he went in jet motion to the left. I think he may have run that motion one other time this year. I bet by the end of the year he will be given the ball in that situation to try to run the ball.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 120 offensive snaps, 225 special team snaps, 10 targets, 9 receptions, 106 yards, 11.8 YPR, 1 TD, 6 tackles, 4 solo

#30 Jaylen Warren (UDFA) – 22 offensive snaps, 5 special team snaps, 3 carries, 11 yards, 3 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards, 1 solo tackle

Warren saw 10 snaps in the first half and 12 in the second with just four total running plays out of the 22.

In the running game, he saw three carries. The first was an inside Zone run for a four-yard gain. His second run was on a similar play but was blocked poorly losing a yard. His final carry came on a toss sweep to the right. He displayed nice balance and acceleration to parallel the sideline for a nice eight-yard gain. The other run play was a fly sweep to the left where he had a solid hit on the linebacker as a lead blocker.

In the passing game, he had another couple of impressive reps picking up blitzers. When he times it right, he attacks from a lower position and stops linebackers in their tracks. He added a couple of chips on the edge and was solid overall pass protecting.

A couple of nice blitz pickups by Warren.

The first target, the only throw by Pickett, was knocked down. His first reception came on a chip release to the right. He gathered the throw, made two defenders miss and finished with a nifty 14-yard gain. Two plays later, he caught a similar pass and was able to push forward for a couple of yards. He also ran a few in-breaking routes while lined up outside and was open on both so I wonder if they might go back to that at a later date.

He received credit for the tackle on the Patrick Queen interception.

2022 Regular Season Totals – 239 offensive snaps, 93 special team snaps, 42 carries, 206 yards, 4.9 YPC, 23 targets, 20 receptions, 167 yards, 8.4 YPR, 1 fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 4 tackles, 3 solo

Inactive for Week 2 – #93 Mark Robinson (Round 7)

Practice Squad – #68 William Dunkle (UDFA PHI), #87 Rodney Williams (UDFA DEN), #96 David Anenih (UDFA TEN)

Reserve/Injured – #19 Calvin Austin (Round 4), #30 Carlins Platel (UDFA)

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