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Steelers Extra: Even in Loss, Pickens, Leal Give Hope For Future (+)

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Steelers WR George Pickens

BUFFALO — It is hard to focus on any positives out of a game where the Steelers were just boat raced by the Buffalo Bills 38-3. That is rightfully so, as well, because Pittsburgh seemed to not be able to get out of their own way consistently throughout the game. However, George Pickens and DeMarvin Leal should give the Steelers some hope for the future with their continued standout performances.

Pickens caught six passes for 83 yards and was the only wide receiver of note to do anything. Somehow, Pickens keeps making spectacular plays. He has an underrated snap at the top of his routes that allows him to separate with ease. He battled all day with former Florida foe and Bills first-round pick Kaiir Elam, and Pickens won that matchup more often than not.

Give it up for Pickens, he continues to flash in a big way. When Tony Romo effuses praise that Pickens may be one of the best wide receivers in football at a point in his development, that rings just how good he has been thus far. He can win at all three levels of the field and make his quarterback look good. Not everything is perfect with the rookie, but up to this point, Pickens’ growth is right on schedule for Pittsburgh.

That is with the highest average depth of target in the NFL at this point. Pickens is averaging of 18 yards per target, and has made the most out of his time with Kenny Pickett. It stands to be said that the Steelers need to continue to diversify Pickens’ route tree and they have done that in the past two weeks.

As for the other rookie, DeMarvin Leal has been something of a gem for the Steelers. Leal continued to flash his quickness and hands both out of the edge and inside. He blocked a short field goal as well. Everything Leal continues to do from a multitude of alignments is not normal.

After the game against the New England Patriots, Leal said he was up to 310 pounds. The Steelers are having him play anywhere from a three-technique to standing up outside as an edge rusher in their big nickel package. Pedigree is the name of the game with Leal, but his athleticism truly is a marvel. He continues to believe that he is taking the next step and feels good about where he is in the game.

“Things are starting to come together,” Leal said. “I was ready for my opportunity when it came. I hope the rest of the guys are as well.”

Injuries have afforded Leal opportunities to showcase just what he is already to the NFL world. It seems as if the Steelers may have found a gem in Leal in the third round with his high-impact plays already showing through consistently on his tape. If Leal continues to flash both at edge and on the inside, Pittsburgh could have a steal.

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