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Leadership Not New to New Steelers Captain Kenny Pickett



Friday Night Lights Steelers Kenny Pickett Diontae Johnson
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett talks with wide receiver Diontae Johnson at training camp on Aug. 4, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett was named a first-time Steelers captain by his teammates this week, the only captain on the Pittsburgh offense for the 2023 season.

But it’s not the first time he’s been a captain at Acrisure Stadium. Pickett was a Pitt captain for two seasons in 2020 and 2021, and Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said this week that his work ethic is what drives his leadership capabilities.

“He’s a worker,” Narduzzi said. “I bet you his car is one of the first ones here in the morning and the last ones to leave. The players see that. When they see the guy is in the office — supposedly, he’s got his own little workstation over there — he’s in there. That’s the first thing. He’s leading by example.”

Working hard is one thing, but becoming a team captain of a professional sports team in a player’s second year is another. The Steelers haven’t had a habit of turning their captaincy over to younger players, though running back Najee Harris was one in 2022. Pickett came into the NFL as an older rookie and he has a maturity about him that teammates and coaches have noticed.

Kenny Pickett Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett in a game with Pitt. — David Hague / Pittsburgh Sports Now

“He’s not afraid to speak up,” Narduzzi said. “You know how some people see stuff and they see it but don’t say anything? He’s not afraid to say, ‘Hey, let’s do it this way,’ or ‘What are you doing?’ He’s not afraid to speak up. He’s not going to step out of bounds or cross the line or give his opinion on something, whether it’s with the coaches … it’s not only leading the players, but it’s with the staff, the personnel and the support staff. He has a good feel for what’s happening in the locker room.”

Pickett has also worked at it. Even before he was a captain, he knew that as a starting quarterback, he would be expected to be a leader.

“I take a lot of pride and it’s something I don’t take lightly,” he said. “I’m really proud to be the captain of this team and the quarterback of this team. I just want to do everything I can to put us in the best position to win.”
That attitude and work ethic suited Pickett well at Pitt, where he won the school’s first ACC title and led Pitt to its best season in 40 years in 2021.
Narduzzi sees a similar trajectory for Pickett in the pros, having said previously that he “will the Steelers to a Super Bowl.”

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