Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Steelers’ Diontae Johnson calls George Pickens a ‘freak,’ says rookie WR is a ‘special talent’

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens has yet to play a regular season game in the NFL, but the second-round draft pick is already generating hype over his athletic abilities. Pickens impressed in training camp and continues to impress as the season gets closer.

Coaches, fans and players have been outspoken about Pickens’ star qualities, including Steelers veteran Diontae Johnson.

“He’s a freak, that’s what he is. He’s a freak,” Johnson said via SI’s All Steelers. “That’s a special talent, you can’t teach some of the things he does. I just be watching like, man, I be amazed at how he catches the ball sometimes. He’s young. He’s getting better on the daily.”

Having a teammate like Johnson will also help Pickens develop, and Johnson is making sure he mentors the wideout whenever he needs guidance.

“I’m teaching him certain stuff. If he asks questions, I’m always there for him. Like I said, he’s a freak of nature.

“Just being there for him. What it’s like to be an NFL receiver when it comes to certain stuff. What you’re doing mid-route, off the ball, where to avoid getting (offensive pass interference). Little stuff like that can go a long way just by me telling him what not to do. He knows what to do, I’m just there to (critique) the little stuff,” Johnson added.

Pickens is listed as a starter on the Steelers depth chart along with Johnson and Chase Claypool — something Johnson is excited for. He added that the starters are now “complete” with the addition of the “dangerous” rookie out of Georgia.

“It’s going to be a big plus,” he said. “They’re not going to be able to cover everyone, they can’t double everyone. There’s always going to be a one-on-one matchup, it’s up to the defense who they’re going to cover.” 

In his preseason debut, Pickens had three catches for 43 yards and a pretty toe-tapping touchdown in the 32-25 win over Seattle. The Steelers’ next preseason game is Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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