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Kenny Pickett Shines, Notches TD in First Preseason Drive



Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

TAMPA, Florida — The Steelers got a wonderful first look at their quarterback Kenny Pickett as Pickett led the Steelers on a 10-play, 83-yard drive for a touchdown against the Buccaneers. Now, the Buccaneers played their entire second-team defense, but the Steelers’ offense looked like did well, led by Pickett under center.

It all started right away on a good note, as Pickett found Diontae Johnson on a curl route. He would do the same on the second play and find Pat Freiermuth for easy moving of the chains from the team. But then the team got behind the sticks and ended up with a third down and 10. But Pickett made the Buccaneers pay by breaking contain on the right side of the offensive line. He slid out of the pocket when the pressure started to get down on him, and kept his eyes downfield to power a good throw to Johnson on the sideline.

Pickett would make another gorgeous throw two plays later after a Jaylen Warren 10-yard rip. This time going to his left, Johnson would run a crosser and be wide open. Pickett looked deadeye accurate on this drive, but especially on the run and out of the pocket, passing up some dump-offs in order to push the ball into the intermediate areas down the field.

To me, the play two plays later would be one of the more impressive plays of the drive. With the offensive line getting beat in pass protection, Pickett stepped up in the pocket and only had to avoid one pass rusher as a result. He broke that tackle and ended up throwing it into the ground while getting hit by a second player. But the pocket movement saved them from a negative play.

The real play that will be highlighted is the throw to George Pickens, and rightfully so. He threw the ball right between the linebacker and safety, with the cornerback in tight coverage. It could not have been thrown much better. You could describe that as a ‘seed’.

Pickens made it happen from there, but it is an impressive throw from Pickett. He ended the drive going 6 for 7 for 70 yards and a touchdown. That is about as good a drive as you could ask for from Pickett given he was facing the second-team defense. His pocket movement has to offer plenty of optimism.

Alan Saunders provided reporting from Tampa.