Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens was visibly upset in last week's game against the Atlanta Falcons, appearing to be asking for the ball more. Some people commented negatively on Pickens' outburst, but head coach Mike Tomlin saw no issue with the situation.
Pickens appeared to say "Throw me the f---ing ball" in the fourth quarter of the Steelers 19-16 win. The 21-year-old was frustrated on the bench as well, getting talks from defensive captain Cam Heyward and wide receivers coach Frisman Jackson.
Pickens finished the game with just one catch for two yards as he was targeted only twice.
Tomlin explained that he would rather have a player who is passionate and wants to play than the alternative.
"I'd rather say 'Whoa' than 'Sic 'em,'" Tomlin said, via ESPN. "I want a guy that wants to be a significant part of what it is that we do. Now, the appropriate and professional and mature way to express that, we're growing and working on, and we will continue to. But that spirit, that competitive spirit, the guy that wants the ball. I want that guy."
Tomlin continued to explain that his players want to contribute as much as they can, using defensive star T.J. Watt in his example.
"I would imagine T.J. [Watt] wants to lay the quarterback down more," Tomlin said. "We got competitors. This is professional football. These guys know that they have to deliver. And so for a guy that wants to do that, I'm not going to make that a negative no matter how silly I think the commentary is, or people talking about him expressing frustrations and stuff and trying to make it a negative storyline. I laugh at that."
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson offered Pickens advice, telling him not to let a game with minimal targets impact him too much.
"Stay focused, just try not to get down and out, just keep playing," Johnson said. "You never know when the ball's going to come to you. ... I've been there before. Just try not to let it get to you as much so it don't take you out the game."
Pickens has played in 12 games, starting seven, with 37 receptions for 512 yards and two touchdowns in the air, as well as one rushing touchdown.