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Mason Rudolph Praises George Pickens for Newfound Maturity



Steelers WR George Pickens
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens in a game against the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 16, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

BALTIMORE — George Pickens has been through it this season. The receiver was rightfully frustrated throughout the season, which ended in some eruptions. But over the previous two games, Pickens racked up over 300 receiving yards and was the offense’s focal point. Then, on Saturday, the Ravens decided to cloud him and take him away. Pickens had zero targets go his way and had just one rush for three yards.

But after the game, Pickens went live on Instagram, smiling and celebrating. Mason Rudolph even called him ‘his brother’, and after the game, defended him staunchly from the stigma that has gone on around him. As some people called him selfish, Rudolph sees another side of Pickens.

“Yes, absolutely. They double-covered [George Pickens for] most of the game,” Rudolph said. “I told him I was very proud of the way he handled it. I thought it was very mature – team first attitude. He was not whining or asking for the ball. He knew schematically they were trying to take him away. I think that’s a form of flattery from a defense. They know how explosive he is. We blocked hard all day. He was excited for his teammates, and that was awesome to see.”

George Pickens has been called out for several things, including a lack of effort while blocking and some tirades on the sidelines. But he was all smiles on Saturday when the team needed him to take on a selfless role the most.

The team challenged Pickens to do differently the next time a tenuous situation occurred. Pickens responded with his most complete game as a professional receiver. Now, he has responded with maturity, even when shut out. Allen Robinson II talked about his growth after the Cincinnati game.

“Definitely, there was a lot of growth shown,” Robinson said. “He’s a guy who has not even completed his full second year yet. There’s a lot of learning that’s taking place and will take place. As you are moving and taking steps forward to ascending to be a great player but understanding the professionalism and the things that come with that, sometimes it is a learning process. He’s doing that. For us, it’s continuing to deliver the message. We have to continue to talk and communicate and help him be the best version of himself. George, the football stuff, we saw today what he is capable of all year.”

This can be the first step in the road of learning for a young player. Pickens is his own player with a swagger on himself that makes him who he is naturally. There are simply ways to express frustrations with the offense around him. He is only 22, and now, it seems Pickens is starting to embrace his role in the team.