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Peter King: Steelers Must Bench George Pickens for Poor Effort

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Steelers WR George Pickens
Steelers WR George Pickens on the bench against the Indianapolis Colts, Dec. 16, 2033 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Steelers wide receiver George Pickens has been under the microscope all season, but now, the calls are less about outrage and more about how the team should move forward with the second-year receiver. Many people think it’s time for the Steelers to trade Pickens this offseason and cut their losses.

On Saturday, there was another play that Pickens got caught in the crosswinds of criticism with after watching it. In the first quarter of the game, with the Steelers driving and just after Pickens had made a catch to put the team into the red zone, running back Jaylen Warren broke free and was headed to the end zone. Pickens was down field, but he made seemingly no effort to attempt to block Colts cornerback Jaylon Jones. Pickens stood still and watched as Jones made the tackle at the 1-yard line, preventing Warren from scoring. Diontae Johnson defended Pickens, but acknowledged the issue at hand.

“It’s just a matter of how the game goes. Everybody’s emotions will be up and down,” Johnson said. “It’s everyone’s job to rally around a guy like that, just to keep his spirits up and keep his head in the game so when the ball comes his way he’s able to make a play. That’s part of the game – emotions. I don’t want to make it seem like George is the problem with the offense. That’s not the case. Emotions are real big in this game.”

But Peter King, who joined 93.7 the Fan on Tuesday, believes it’s time for the Steelers to show George Pickens they mean business. He called for them to discipline Pickens by benching him for his actions against the Bengals to send a strong message to him.

“What George Pickens is doing right now is absolutely, totally, unacceptable…..I don’t really care how great he could be or should be, I care about how great he is & he’s not great right now. There are plays were he absolutely dogs it,” King said. “His career’s not over. It can be salvaged, it can be fixed. But if I were the Steelers right now…I know how important this game is…he’d be deactivated Sunday against Cincinnati.”

Mike Tomlin sat down with Pickens last week to clear the air about his frustrations and lack of effort at times. But that seemed to not get through.

Tomlin described how defenses will come into a game with an agenda to attempt to limit an offensive star for as long as possible to start a game, with the hope that by doing so, they’ll grow frustrated and take themselves out of the game.

“He and I had a great meeting this week,” Tomlin said. “He needs to understand it is an agenda. It is a game plan. It is something that’s constructed to break him and the unit down. And that’s why it’s so important that he manages the frustration component of it.”

Pickens didn’t have any notable verbal outbursts on the sideline, but he was again sulking on the bench during the game.

Tomlin took an unusual step in publicly detailing how and why one of his players needs to improve. It’s up to Pickens to make it happen or he will face the music.

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