Calvin Austin III Sees Kenny Pickett Setting The Standard: ‘You Got To Be At His Level Or Be Left Behind’

The standard is the standard.

This has been the mantra that Pittsburgh Steelers have lived by and what Mike Tomlin has emphasized throughout his tenure as the head coach. The “Standard” is playing winning football, making the playoffs, winning the AFC North, and contending for Super Bowls.

The Steelers have fallen short of that standard in recent seasons, having failed to win a playoff game since 2016. QB Kenny Pickett is looking to put that playoff victory drought to an end this season. Watching Steelers teams of the past and the success that they had, he has aggressively attacked this offseason, putting in the work necessary to take that step forward in Year Two the organization as well as the rest of Steelers Nation hopes he can make.

That tenacious work ethic and desire to be great has rubbed off on his teammates as well. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, WR Calvin Austin III talked about Pickett’s leadership, commending his QB for pushing his teammates to strive for a higher standard of excellence.

“I’ve kind of prided myself on working and grinding and all of that, but having someone like him who does it even more, you know, it just makes you push even more,” Austin said about Pickett Tuesday via video from WPXI’s Jenna Harner’s Twitter page. “He’s going to make sure that you are on your A-game, and that’s the thing of having a quarterback like that. It’s what you want because he’s going to bring everybody else up with him and nobody else is going to be able to stay where they are. You got to either be at his level or be left behind.”

Austin and Pickett came into the NFL in the same draft class, getting drafted just a year ago. Since then, Pickett has taken the reins of being QB1 in Pittsburgh and the team’s hopeful future franchise QB. Meanwhile, Austin lost his entire rookie season to a foot injury and has rehabbed to the point now where he is participating in OTAs in his first real action with the team since training camp last year.

You want your quarterback to be the leader of your franchise, and from what Austin has seen thus far, Pickett has done just that. Pickett saw the quality of football the team played last season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, and knew that wasn’t the standard for Steelers football. Just missing the playoffs and scraping by with a winning record isn’t the standard either. The standard is winning the AFC North, winning playoff games, and competing for Super Bowls on an annual basis.

Pickett is setting the example for Austin, as well as the rest of the team as he heads into his second season. He got his feet wet as a rookie, but now there are no excuses. It’s time to perform and to get results. Pickett is holding himself accountable of doing just that and is expecting his teammates to do the same, signaling that you can get onboard this train or you can be left at the station as the Pittsburgh Steelers embark on the 2023 season.

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