PITTSBURGH — When it came time for Kenny Pickett to step up to the plate in Week 2 of Steelers training camp, he did it with flying colors. Pickett’s second week in Latrobe was exactly what the Steelers were hoping for from the young quarterback. He was sharp, accurate, and made enough plays with his legs that showed a level of comfortability that was not there in the first week of training camp.
Pickett landed himself on the winner’s list of the second week for a reason. When a rookie can take the leap that was expected of him, that is when eyebrows can be raised. Pickett is looking better and better. Thus far, his progression is linear, even if not all progression actually is at this stage.
Pickett is starting to turn heads. However, it was settling into the offense and the players he was playing with that truly allowed Pickett to create some more on the run in the second week and illustrate his play style on the field. On Thursday, his best practice of the week, Pickett’s mental readiness took a new step up.
“I feel a lot better, honestly,” Pickett said. “It was just getting to know some of these guys a little bit. I thought it was a lot cleaner this week. I was able to play at a much higher. I feel really good heading into Week 3.”
Players and Coaches Seeing Kenny Pickett Improve
It is not just Pickett who thinks he is better. In fact, Mike Tomlin called out some of the traits they expected to see out of Pickett and what he could do in the future. It was some of the out-of-structure plays that made it so obvious that Pickett took the leap. For his playmaking to flash itself, that is what Tomlin was looking for from Pickett for the week.
“I’m looking for playmaking,” Tomlin said. “He’s not a 7B. We expect quality playmaking and a quick maturation process. We like the things that he is doing so far.”
It is easiest to tell the growth from the perspective of a fellow rookie. Conner Heyward caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Pickett on Saturday. They have developed and matured together, but it is becoming more and more obvious that Pickett is picking up the offense quickly.
“Each day, he comes in and gets better,” Heyward said. “He’s being more vocal and just being himself. Kenny had a lot of experience as a quarterback and a leader. But it’s hard on the first day and even harder for some of the rookies at times. Coach always just talks about showing growth and getting better. I can definitely say that he has.”
Pickett now heads into the week of the first preseason game trying to build off the strong second week he had. If Pickett can prove he has grown not only in a practice setting but a game setting, then he can start to make roads in the quarterback competition. Until that point, the Steelers should be happy to see the rookie grow practice after practice.