Steelers Rookie QB Kenny Pickett Reveals One Area He’d Like to Improve

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

An adjustment period was always going to be in store for Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6) quarterback Kenny Pickett during his rookie season in the NFL.

When looking through the annals of first-year signal callers, one thing that’s consistent are turnovers. Pickett is no different, as the first-round pick out of Pitt has surrendered the ball to opposing defenses nine times through five games (eight interceptions, one fumble lost). Pickett has played one clean game of football since taking over as starter, the lone win of his young career. It was a 20-18 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) in Week 6, in which he threw for just 67 yards.

Coming off Pittsburgh’s bye week, Pickett said Wednesday that he has to protect the football more moving forward.

“I’ve got to protect the ball more. Absolutely,” Pickett said, via Pro Football Talk. “I’m not throwing picks where I’m not seeing the coverage — I see what’s going on, whether it’s a tipped ball or there were a few that they got me on. But I’m processing it, I’m going to the sideline, and I know exactly what happened and why it went there.

“So, there are things that I can build on, but the bottom line is that I’ve got to protect the football, so that’s something that, in this back half of the season, needs to be a focus for me.”

Kenny Pickett Searching for Rapport With Steelers’ Receivers

Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints (3-6) will be Pickett’s first appearance without wideout Chase Claypool at his disposal. Claypool was dealt to the Chicago Bears (3-6) at the trade deadline. That leaves receivers Diontae Johnson and George Pickens and tight end Pat Freiermuth as his go-to targets.

Having began the season as No. 3 on the quarterback depth chart behind Mitchell Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, Pickett seldom had time to work with the ones. Pickett said that he and his pass catchers have been doing extra work on the side to improve their chemistry.

“We just have to adjust that with how we do certain things,” Pickett said. “But I think the ball gets spread around. I think those guys will step up as a receiver room to fill that void. I’m excited to see guys get opportunities and see what they do with them.”