George Pickens is an emotional player, and he has become frustrated over the last two games with some of the doubles that are allowing Diontae Johnson to eat. He appeared dissatisfied on the sideline, and then on Friday, some drama arose with his Instagram activity.
He posted a story with a character who was frustrated with the words ‘Free Me’ under it. He appeared to be in a solemn mood all of Thursday night, with his body language on the sideline depicting just that. Not only did Pickens do that, but he unfollowed all offensive teammates aside from college teammate Broderick Jones and Mason Rudolph. The last move he would make was to scrub his entire page of Steelers-related posts.
However, he added all of those posts back to Instagram after archiving them. He then followed back all teammates, including Diontae Johnson. He is trying to convey here that there was nothing to be concerned about from the start and that the drama was all manufactured.
In a new Instagram story on Saturday, Pickens posted a simple message to those concerned that he was fed up with the organization.
“Assumptions lol over a picture,” Pickens wrote. “That has nothing to do with FB (Football). Y’all need urgent care lol.”
On Saturday, in an interview with CBS Sports, former Steelers receiver Hines Ward advised George Pickens about how to handle his frustrations. Ward, who was on multiple Super Bowl teams, has no deep problem with what Pickens is doing but is worried it could become a distraction at some point to a young offense.
“George, he’s just young,” Ward said to CBS Sports. “Extremely talented. Wants the ball. It’s not a bad thing. I love receivers who want to impact the game, but also, you have to keep everything in perspective and understand that it’s not about you. There’s a lot that goes on in the passing game. You may be wide open, but protection breaks down and the quarterback has to scramble and you never got that opportunity because of that.”
Teams seem comfortable in letting Johnson take short gains while keeping the big-play beast that is Pickens chained down. Of course, George Pickens should have had a touchdown against the Titans, but he took too big of a step and went out of bounds. Since Johnson returned to the lineup against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 7, Johnson has 29 targets and 20 catches. Pickens has 18 targets and just eight catches.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Ward said. “(But) when you start posting tweets and giving media an opportunity to bring it up … that can be a distraction to most teams, especially Pittsburgh being so young. You just have to be mindful, be careful because you can’t make it all about George Pickens. You’ve got to make it about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the reason why we have six Lombardi trophies in that building. It wasn’t just about one player, I can guarantee you that.”
There have been multiple instances of his teammates talking him through his issues on the sideline over his two seasons, even in training camp. He’s an emotional player who wears his heart on his sleeve at times. So far, Pickens’ frustrations have not caused any noticeable negativity throughout the team.