UNITY TWP., Pa — Kenny Pickett has potentially been the story of Steelers camp up to this point. And how could he not be? After all, Pickett was the team’s first-round draft pick and played next door to the Steelers for five years. Not only is he a first-round quarterback, but he is a hometown product. So, his every movement up and down the depth chart has been tracked all of training camp. On Monday, he ran all day with twos.
Now, on Tuesday at Steelers camp, Pickett has officially started to work with the first team. In the two-minute drill period on Tuesday, Pickett worked with the first team offense for the first time in training camp. Then, Mason Rudolph worked with the second team. It was the first time that Mitch Trubisky was not involved in that period for the entirety of training camp, but it made plenty of sense.
Mike Tomlin has talked many times about having a defined plan in place for the quarterbacks, and this seems to be part of it. As it stands now, Pickett is on his way to getting the second team reps against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. He has essentially flipped spots with Rudolph for now, as it was Rudolph who had been sprinkled in throughout the early parts of training camp with the first team.
During the two-minute drill, Pickett started out the drive 2 for 3 for 12 yards with completions to Najee Harris and Chase Claypool. However, the real highlight of the drive was a beautiful ball on a go route to George Pickens. It was clearly going to be Cover 2, and Pickett knew it. So, he anticipated it and threw a dime right between the safety and cornerback for a 27-yard completion. From there, Pickett would not complete another pass, as time expired on the first-team offense. Thus, Pickett’s drive was unsuccessful.
It was at the very least good to get Pickett some exposure with the first team to that action. Not only did he have to deal with the pressure of the first team defensive line but he got elevated by playing with the first team skill players. It was clear Pickett was a bit unsure of himself with the lack of chemistry with some of the top players on the first unit.
Pickett needed first-team reps, however. If it was not going to come after Saturday, then when? Simply put, it was time for Pickett to take the next step. Trubisky will likely be the starter, but that does not mean Pickett can not learn a bit. He was not thrown into the fire at Steelers camp.
His progression from the first week of camp to now is astounding. However, the closer to football time gets, the better Pickett plays. He is clearly feeling much better now than he did two weeks ago. In reality, that is largely all that matters. The rookie is growing with time and teaching. Jacksonville will be a great test for Pickett, and Tuesday was just the next step in Tomlin’s plan for Pickett.
The seven shots period has been largely dominated by the defense throughout training camp. But on Tuesday, it was the offense that ended up eating all the steak and lobsters. It was the most decisive victory for the offense in all of Steelers camp.
🏈: The Steelers started out with a 3×1 look to the left side, but motioned Najee Harris out to make it a quad formation. Trubisky fakes like he will throw it to Harris, but takes it instead for a QB Draw and is untouched. He heads into the end zone for the touchdown. Offense, 1-0.
🏈: Diontae Johnson aligns in the slot. He runs a quick out route against Arthur Maulet. Trubisky likes what he sees and fires, but overthrows Johnson slightly. It goes off a diving Johnson’s fingertips and is incomplete. Tied, 1-1.
🏈: James Daniels jumps for a false start. Trubisky ends up scrambling around afterward since the play is not called dead and finds Pat Freiermuth all alone in the end zone. It could have counted, but Mike Tomlin says otherwise. Defense, 2-1.
🏈: Freiermuth and Johnson line up on the same side of the formation in a condensed set off Dan Moore Jr’s hip. Trubisky steps up and has a two-read progression. Johnson takes two defenders with him to the flat, and Freiermuth beats Cam Sutton back inside. Tied, 2-2.
🏈: Kenny Pickett is on the field with the second team. Gunner Olszewski is motion across the formation on the jet motion. Pickett fakes the jet sweep to him and finds a wide-open Anthony McFarland in the flat for a touchdown. Myles Jack seemed upset about a miscommunication with Terrell Edmunds. Offense, 3-2.
🏈: Pickett is immediately rushed up the middle by DeMarvin Leal. Still, Pickett is composed enough to throw off his back foot in the direction of Connor Heyward. Heyward makes a sliding grab in the back of the end zone in front of the goal post for a touchdown. Offense, 4-2.
🏈: Mason Rudolph is ready to come in and does. He steps back and immediately looks towards Tyler Vaughns who is wide open on a stick route in the front of the end zone. Vaughns snags it for a touchdown in front of Mark Robinson. The offense wins, 5-2.
The offense looked crisp here and ready to go. There were some miscommunications amongst the defense that hurt them here. That is going to be a point of emphasis for the Steelers heading into seven shots tomorrow.
Pressley Harvin III Hits Moon Balls
The punting competition that never existed ended on Tuesday when Cameron Nizialek was released by the Steelers. So, naturally, they did a live punting portion of practice. It ended extremely well, with Harvin skying moon balls all over the yard. In the period, there were 4 punts of over 60 yards for Harvin and no real misses. Even if he hit the ball slightly off the side of his foot, it felt like Harvin was able to impress.
It was the best that Harvin has looked in a Steelers uniform. The punting situation has not been something that the Steelers have truly figured out. However, if Harvin punts during the regular season like he did on Tuesday, he has the opportunity to be that solution to the Steelers punting woes.