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Steelers Players Respond to George Pickens’ Effort: ‘Needs to Understand’



Steelers WR George Pickens
Steelers WR George Pickens against the Ravens, Oct. 8, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — On Tuesday, George Pickens apologized to absolutely nobody, in fact, he did not regret his effort while blocking for Jaylen Warren on a run that could have turned into a touchdown. His answers has hit the national waves, blowing up as the Steelers once again get caught on the wrong side of the national discussion.

“I was just trying to prevent the Tank Dell situation, the same thing that happened to (him). I didn’t want to get an injury. When you stay on the block too long, you can get ran up on very easily,” Pickens said.

When a message like that returns to the locker room, it will perk his teammates’ ears up to his effort. Allen Robinson II has focused on helping Pickens and Diontae Johnson all season. He wants to see them grow, just like he has over his decade in the NFL, and he acknowledged that Pickens has to know better.

Steelers WR George Pickens

Steelers WR George Pickens at practice on December 19th, 2023 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

“That’s something that he has to compartmentalize and understand in that situations, regardless in the league, you’ve got to put the efforts out there to create winning habits,” Robinson said. “I think regardless for younger players it may take some time to understand that or see that. Him being able to see that and how certain efforts on the field, how those can kind of be game-changing situations, whether it be a touchdown or a tackle at the 1, or so on and so forth. Luckily we were able to score on that drive, but continuing to help him understand and compartmentalize the big picture of the team efforts.”

Mike Tomlin sat down with Pickens last week to clear the air about his frustrations and lack of effort at times. But that seemed not to 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 had no notable verbal outbursts on the sideline but was again sulking on the bench during the game.

Steelers WR George Pickens

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

Tomlin took an unusual step in publicly detailing how and why one of his players needs to improve. But Robinson is also trying to make Pickens receptive to messages so that he can change. While they have not detailed the lack of effort on Warren’s run together, Robinson has talked to Pickens about managing his frustrations throughout the season maturely.

“Yeah, you know, I try to talk to him a lot. At the same time players have their own understanding and interpretations of things, but my job as a vet is to try to continue to make guys big-picture oriented,” Robinson said. “At the same time I want George to have a long-lasting career, and to be able to give him some learning experience that I’ve experienced in certain situations regardless of if he’s understanding or taking that in any kind of way, me being able to just kind of tee up and give him some food for thought constantly, is what I try to do.”

Moving forward, Pickens has to showcase that effort can change over the last three games of the season. No one is happy with the offense. It sucks to be on a losing team. But what Pickens is doing can not continue or it will only fester into something much bigger. As talented as he is, the Steelers want him as part of their future. But he needs to prove they can trust him to do that.