With any skill, you are expected to get better at it with more time and practice.
That is the case for plenty of NFL players as they transition from the college game to the pros, having to adjust to the increased speed of the game and the elevated level of competition that they face on a weekly basis. The rookie season tends to be a “trial by fire” experience for many players who are attempting to jump on the moving train and learn on the fly, expecting to get more comfortable by Year Two in the league.
This appears to the case with Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett, who was thrown into the fire last season, coming off the bench at halftime in Week 4 against the New York Jets in hope of sparking a stagnant offense. The next week, Pickett was tasked with going on the road into Buffalo to play a potent Bills team in his very first NFL start.
Pickett experienced plenty of growing pains in his first season but showed promise down the strength for the Steelers, who rallied in the second half. Speaking on 93.7 The Fan, Pickett’s QB Coach Tony Racioppi talked about the visible difference he has seen in Pickett from last season to this point in the offseason.
“If you’re comparing last year, it’s night and day,” Racioppi said on 93.7 The Fan. “I think that last year it just kind of like, okay, ‘What am I doing?’ You’re walking in there just kind of like blind just trying to figure things out, like you don’t even know how practice is run. This year it’s total ownership, right? He’s the leader. So, you go out there, you know what you’re doing, you know the scheme, you know the formations, you know the concepts, you know your footwork, you know the drills, you know how practice is structured, you have timing down with the guys you’re going to throw with.”
Pickett’s teammates have praised his work ethic and commitment to his craft so far during OTAs. LB Elandon Roberts said that Pickett is “light years” ahead of other players his age while WR Calvin Austin III mentioned that Pickett is setting the example for him and the rest of the team in terms of his commitment to getting better and holding others accountable to the standard.
HC Mike Tomlin mentioned a while ago that he expects Pickett to kill it this season, calling 2023 his second lap around the track and that he knows what the expectations are of him and how to specifically meet those expectations. Pickett has committed himself to getting better this offseason, throwing with his teammates in player-run workouts while also showing up to the facility prior to OTAs to get in more work to be prepared for team-run activities. Couple that with a full year of experience under his belt and it’s fair to expect Pickett to be much further along at this point compared to his rookie season with that experience and development hopefully yielding better results on the football field in 2023.