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Steelers WR says he was open '90 percent of the time' vs. Patriots

/ by Darren Hartwell
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George Pickens

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several dynamic skill players on offense, but none made a significant impact against the New England Patriots in Week 2.

That includes talented rookie wide receiver George Pickens, who contributed just one catch for 23 yards on three targets in the Steelers' 17-14 loss to the Patriots.

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If you ask Pickens, though, his lack of production wasn't due to New England's secondary locking him up. When asked how often he was open last Sunday, the 21-year-old responded:

"I'd say about 90 percent of the time."

"I just say that because I’m a big guy that runs in the low 4.4s (in the 40-yard dash)," Pickens continued, via TribLive.com. "I always have a step on somebody and my step is naturally longer than the other person, and I’m actually fast.

"I’m always (going to) have a step and always feel like 99 percent of the time I’m open even though the ball gets there in the air and (the defender) gets time to catch back up. … But I’m open as soon as I get off the line."

Wide receivers are a confident bunch, and Pickens certainly isn't the first pass-catcher to feel like he's almost always open. Yet there's evidence (here, here and here) to suggest that Pickens found open windows against the Patriots' defensive backs, and that quarterback Mitch Trubisky failed to find him.

 

Trubisky's mediocre play -- 21 for 33 for 168 yards with one touchdown pass and an interception -- was a big reason why New England left Pittsburgh with a victory. If he doesn't improve against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, he very well could lose his job to rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett.

In any case, the Patriots should be glad they saw this version of the Steelers' offense while earning a much-needed Week 2 victory.