For most of training camp, we’ve been hearing the steady drumbeat of what rookie WR George Pickens was doing during practices and how players and coaches were complimenting him on his immense talent. Then, practice videos began to leak of Pickens making highlight reel catches daily against his teammates, showing impressive body control and natural hands to come down with the ball while scrambling.
All those practice replays paid off Saturday night as the Steelers beat the Seahawks 32-25 in their first preseason game at Acrisure Stadium. With 1:48 left in the first quarter, Mason Rudolph took the middle and threw a beautiful deep ball down the right sideline as Pickens raced down the field. He successfully located the ball in the air and made the over-the-shoulder catch as he tiptoed both feet in bounds for the touchdown before falling through the back of the end zone. He made the catch over fellow rookie CB Coby Bryant.
“When you look at it, I feel like you look at it like a dream come true,” Pickens said in a post-game interview with the media via video from Pittsburgh Tribune Chris Adamski. I just have to keep working.”
A little more than a year ago as of today, George Pickens was rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered during spring ball at the University of Georgia. Many wrote him off as not having a chance to return for the season, but Pickens somehow worked his way through recovery and returned to the field for the Bulldogs’ National Championship title run.
Pickens had to overcome a lot of adversity just to see the field in limited plays in the CFP, let alone fully recover to perform like he did at the NFL Combine and at his Pro Day to give Pittsburgh the confidence to select him #52 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. To be rewarded for all that hard work going back to last season, it’s no wonder why Pickens said he felt like he was living in a dream because in reality, this moment was probably a dream he had for himself from when he was injured.
Still, while the world is on fire for Pickens and how much promise he has shown in such a short time, he is taking the humble route, stating that he just needs to keep working on his craft as he hasn’t “arrived.” yet. That’s what Mike Tomlin has said about him at times during training camp, keeping the young man humble and hungry to capitalize on the great gifts he possesses.
We’ll have to wait and see what kind of Impact Pickens has during his rookie season, but if Saturday night is any indication, he appears poised for a major role in early 2022.