Steelers' Mike Tomlin calls WR drama 'pebble in my shoe'

League: NFL

Posted on: 07 Nov, 2023 at 06:05 PM

Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters they are guilty of following storylines on social media and ignoring reality in determining George Pickens' role in the offense.

Pickens had two receptions for -1 yard on five targets Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans and caught one pass for 22 yards the week before against the Jaguars.

Tomlin said he wants players who "want the ball" and has an open door if players are frustrated. Tomlin said that would be an apt description of Pickens.

"Heck yes, he expresses his frustration all the time. He wants to be significant," Tomlin said Tuesday. "He wants to be a reason why we're successful. I want guys who want the football. I want guys who want to be central to our success. That's a non-issue."

The day after beating the Titans, Pickens posted "free me" on Instagram and scrubbed references to the Steelers from his account.

Tomlin said Pickens taking his frustration to Instagram isn't the preferred approach but said the conversation between coach and player took place in-house and has been extinguished. He said the perceived issue is nothing compared to the big picture of preparing for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

"I know it's a cute story for you guys, but it is a pebble in my shoe to be quite honest with you compared to the things I have to do. Our focus in on the Green Bay Packers and what we have to do in this football game. I can't state it any plainer than that. It's like reality television the way you guys follow social media and write stories about it," Tomlin said.

Pickens has been targeted 58 times with 30 receptions for 521 yards and three touchdowns in 2023.

A bigger storyline Sunday from Tomlin's vantage point would be the return of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Nowhere near certain to play this week, Fitzpatrick is "improving", Tomlin said, and working past the hamstring injury he sustained in Week 8 against the Jaguars.

Tomlin said he won't rule out Fitzpatrick after erasing him as an option early last week ahead of the Thursday game against Tennessee.

--Field Level Media