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Steelers GM Omar Khan on Kenny Pickett, RB Reps, More

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Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Diontae Johnson’s contract situation and Kevin Colbert’s mentorship through the transition were the main takeaways from Omar Khan’s press conference on Tuesday, but the first-year general manager touched on several other topics, as well. In his opening statement, Khan mentioned kicker Chris Boswell’s five-year, $23.26 million contract extension.

“As you guys know, we extended Chris Boswell. We’re excited to get that done,” Khan said. “He’s been an important part of this team for a few years now. We’re excited it’s going to continue for another five years.”

Khan said there wasn’t much of a difference in negotiating Boswell’s deal as the general manager as opposed to being the salary cap guy. “Yeah, I’d say from their standpoint I don’t think there was much difference. Cole Marcoux was heavily involved who works for me. Not much difference.”

First-round pick Kenny Pickett has looked a lot better in the last three practices, as he’s received second-team reps compared to last week when he was running entirely with the third-team. Khan is just looking for improvement every day from his rookie quarterback.

“I would say the growth. He’s a young quarterback,” Khan said when asked what a successful training camp would look like for Pickett. “There’s a lot being thrown at him. I would just say from his standpoint, to be able to say on the day he leaves camp that he’s in a lot better position than he was day one. I think that’s important for him. I have all the confidence that he’ll get there.”

In regards to the three-way quarterback competition, Khan has been impressed with what he’s seen so far but noted that it’s still very early in the process.

“I would say we’ve had one padded practice, so it’s early,” Khan said. “There’s a lot of practice that still has to happen, but we’ve seen some good things. We’re excited about the room, what the future holds.”

The Steelers don’t have a clear-cut RB2 right now, but Khan is confident with the running back room right now.

“We like the group that we have,” Khan said. “We have a couple guys banged up. We have to be ready to add to that room, but we feel good about that room.”

After leading the league in touches last season with 381, Najee Harris’ workload has been a hot topic heading into the 2022 season. When asked if he’s concerned about Harris maintaining his health as the bell cow running back, Khan said the distribution of carries will be Mike Tomlin’s call.

“Coach will manage Najee with respect to the carries and all that,” Khan said. “We’re always going to be ready to have the next guy up if needed based on injuries or whatever the situation might be.”

Khan said that Brian Flores has been a positive addition to the Steelers coaching staff. He also mentioned that they share a special bond.

“Flo has been awesome,” Khan said. “He’s a great person, a great football coach. One thing we have in common is that he’s of Honduran descent. I’m of Honduran descent. That’s a cool little bond that we have. But he’s been great.”

After having one of the worst offensive lines in the league last year, the Steelers addressed the interior part of their O-line this offseason by signing center Mason Cole and guard James Daniels in free agency. They also re-signed offensive tackle Chuks Okorafor to a three-year, $29.5 million deal that included $9.25 million guaranteed. Khan said he’s pleased with the state of the offensive line.

“Yeah, we’re really excited about that, the offensive line room,” Khan said. “We added some key pieces there. We’ve only gotten the opportunity to see them in pads once so far. A lot of practice left to happen, but we really like the room. We added some good guys, just some leaders. We’re excited.”

Following Stephon Tuitt’s retirement in June, the Steelers signed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a one-year, $8 million deal. Ogunjobi underwent Lisfranc surgery this offseason and has been a limited participant so far in training camp. Khan said there’s nothing to worry about, however, as they’re just being cautious.

“I’ll be honest. We’re just trying to be smart with the situation,” Khan said. “Larry O is ready to go. We’re just trying to be smart. We understood where he was, and we wouldn’t have signed him if we weren’t confident that he was going to be ready to go. We’re just trying to be smart. There’s still a lot of football to happen before September 11.”

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers have $14,338,932 in cap space, which is the 10th highest in the league. The situation is always fluid, but as they stand now, Khan likes where the Steelers are at.

“Overall, I feel really good about the 90-man roster that we have,” Khan said. “If there’s an opportunity to upgrade a position, somebody comes available through the waiver wire, someone calls about a player, they’re shopping, obviously you’re going to look at it. Injuries come into play with those conversations. But overall, I feel really good about our roster.”

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