PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are marching into 2023 with high expectations for quarterback Kenny Pickett. And the now second-year passer is going to add a little bit to himself to help improve his game.
At the NFL level, Pickett quickly showed he's not afraid to take hits. That being said, at 220 pounds, it can't be easy getting up after a 300-plus pound lineman just hit you moving full force. So, he's bulking up for year two.
During an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, Pickett said one of his two goals this offseason is to bulk up.
"In the combine training, I got a little too lean, I would say," Pickett said. "I was a little under 220. I want to get a little bit bigger for this season. You’re training for the 40, the (shuttle), you’re not training to be a football player, you’re kind of doing the drills. I wanted to perform well in those, so then I was playing catch-up after that, trying to gain some weight. I want to gain a little bit more weight and have a little bit more muscle mass on me getting into the season after experiencing a lot of these hits."
Pickett suffered two concussions during his rookie season, which struck many as a concern for his future. He repeatedly said he was not worried about the hits and the added weight should help lessen the blow from defensive players.
Now, it's impossible to grow another two inches and meet the 6-foot-5 frame of Ben Roethlisberger. But adding 10 pounds or so could get him close to that 240-pound mass Big Ben carried around in the NFL.
Shrugging off defenders would be a thing of beauty for Steelers fans to watch, which Pickett will also work to improve this offseason.
"It’s tying in what we’re doing offensively now to my footwork," Pickett said. "Footwork is a huge thing for me. I think if I can get my feet right, then usually the ball goes where I need it to go. I’ll continue to work on off-platform throws, as well. Getting outside the pocket is something I did a lot better toward the back end of the year, extending plays and giving guys chances down the field."
That footwork and added weight should allow him to escape defenders a little easier in year two. He's already pretty mobile, but said he realized quickly how fast NFL defensive linemen are - and he's looking to improve his escape ability moving forward.
"Extending play, I could do it at the college level at like 50%, pretty much jogging," Pickett said. "Linemen aren’t as fast at the college level. In the NFL, they’re just as fast, if not faster than I am. So the sense of urgency, I would say, when I was escaping, was definitely heightened."
Pickett said he took one week off before returning to the team's facility to start working again. He'll give it about a month before he starts throwing, but in the meantime, he'll work on areas of improvement.
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