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Steelers WRs Coach Thinks George Pickens Is on the Brink of Stardom



Steelers WR George Pickens

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens is in position to establish himself among the upper echelon of wide receivers this season. An All-Pro leap could be looming.

Despite subpar quarterback play, Pickens caught 52 passes for 801 yards and four scores in his rookie season in 2022. Last season, he elevated his game with 63 receptions for 1,140 yards and five touchdowns. Pickens’ 18.1 average per reception in 2023 led the league.

With Russell Wilson or Justin Fields at quarterback coupled with new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, Pickens’ ceiling should be unlimited.

“He just has to pick it up and take the cheese and do the things we ask him to do,” Steelers wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni said at minicamp. “He can to anything he wants. He’s that talented. Ray Charles can see that, you don’t need to be a coach. We know that’s out there for him if he wants it.”

Steelers WR George Pickens

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens during minicamp on June 12, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers plan on making Pickens more versatile in his formation alignments this season. He confirmed to reporters at minicamp on Wednesday that he’s playing in the slot more than ever in Smith’s system.

“Yeah. Not more than I ever have. I did at Georgia. But more than I have in this league,” Pickens said about playing in the slot.

Pickens views himself as a complete receiver, so he welcomes lining up wherever.

“I’m a total receiver, I like working in the slot just as much as I like working as an outside receiver,” Pickens said. “It puts me on linebackers, put me on safeties.”

Pickens believes he can be a matchup nightmare on linebackers and safeties in the slot.

“Speed, splitting defenders, that’s the biggest thing in the slot,” Pickens said. “If you got super, super good speed, you can split defenders and it’s going to be easy to score.

“It’s being smarter than linebackers. They got a few keys. They are kind of crash dummies. Just being smarter than them, catching the ball getting down when you are supposed to, catching the ball and scoring when you are supposed to.”

Nick Farabaugh contributed reporting from Pittsburgh.

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