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Steelers OC Calls Out George Pickens’ Effort: ‘Not Acceptable’



Steelers WR George Pickens
Steelers WR George Pickens at practice Nov. 22, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers hope to show George Pickens the error in his ways. Offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner addressed Pickens’ effort on Wednesday after the talented receiver failed to show sufficient effort blocking on a Jaylen Warren run that could have scored a touchdown.

“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.

Offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner heard the noise, too. He said the team addressed the play and comments internally as unacceptable. While Faulkner believes that Pickens is receptive to what they are telling him, they need to see that translate from here on out.

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

“We have to go out there and execute every play to the highest level, every player. That’s the expectation,” Faulkner said. “You address it, you present it to the group, you make sure that it is called out amongst the guys and they understand where your stance is and then you move on from that. You know, being here with George every day, I know he’s a guy that loves it and loves ball, he works at it, and he wants to be good, and that’s where you find your peace that you can bring him along because he loves ball.”

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, hoping that by doing so, they’ll grow frustrated and take themselves out of the game. Like Tomlin, Faulkner’s message to the team is that the effort is entirely unacceptable.

“I think he’s a young guy who has to learn to become a professional,” Faulkner said. “..,.You make it known that it’s not acceptable. And then, you expect it to change.”

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 maturely managing his frustrations throughout the season. Faulkner has done something similar, and that team hopes they can crack through to Pickens. But their moves going forward are going to decide Pickens’ future with the team.