PITTSBURGH — Sometimes, all a room with talented players needs to add is a veteran who can guide them like a light. In the room, the Steelers wide receivers boasted three talented players: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Calvin Austin II. Johnson did his best to lead the way for the room, but a true wise man veteran who had seen it all still was not in the room. Then, Pittsburgh traded for Allen Robinson II, adding a player entering his 10th season in the NFL to guide the young players and add a big slot to the team as a chain mover and red zone target.
So far, Robinson’s on-field impact showcased itself against the Bills, where Kenny Pickett looked for him as a security blanket on those weighty downs. Off the field, Pickens, Johnson, and Austin rave about the mentorship that Robinson brings to entire wide receiver corps at large.
Take it from defensive coordinator Teryl Austin: the veteran presence of a wide receiver on the offensive side of the football can be annoying for a defense. When the Steelers added Robinson to the room, they were looking for a player who could give them leadership and significant contributions as a big slot receiver. Austin has seen the impact of Robinson on the offense just from a casual observer’s point of view.
“I think Allen (Robinson) in the slot is a big difference,” Austin said. “You know, you have that third quality guy in there so you know, they can kind of go a little bit, you know, other places. So, for us when we kind of feel that in practice and so, that would be kind of a couple of things off the cuff.”
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada sees a similar level of growth when it comes to the offense around Robinson. Sure, the savvy veteran who can be a possession reviewer and red zone threat is important, but more so, the communication hub that Robinson brings into the wide receiver room might be just as important. Now, Robinson will stand in the slot and call out coverages and other things that he, as a receiver, sees to a young quarterback like Pickett.
“I think he’s a super-talented player,” Canada said. “He’s a veteran, you know, an experienced guy that comes in and leads and he’s done a really good job for us and everything we hope he’d be so far.”
Robinson should help this offense mesh better. Getting Pickens and Johnson a mentor like Robinson can also help both players. Expect Robinson not to run up the stat sheet but be a player who can help as much off the field as on the field. That’s just how the Steelers would like it to be for the quieter, lead-by-example type of leader Robinson is off the field.