Steelers defender responds after George Pickens embarrasses him in practice

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George Pickens made a tremendous catch over Joey Porter Jr. at training camp. (Image: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
George Pickens made a tremendous catch over Joey Porter Jr. at training camp. (Image: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Maybe George Pickens is special, after all. Days after the Pittsburgh Steelers youngster told the world he was the best wide receiver in the NFL, he embarrassed defensive teammate Joey Porter Jr. in practice with an incredible catch.

Porter appeared incensed after Pickens leaped up to make a one-handed snag over him at an open training camp session. Pickens mockingly handed him the ball following the play. Porter threw it back at him. Then, Pickens did an elaborate celebration with fellow offensive players as a nearby coach tried to calm Porter.

Later, the defensive back embraced a calmer tone when referencing the skirmish. "I don't know how he caught it," Porter told The Athletic. "We are teammates, so we want the best out of each other at the end of the day. We are going to talk a little, but it is never going to be past that point."

Added head coach Mike Tomlin: "[I'm] sure there'll be some other similar matchups that may draw your attention."

Pickens, a second-round pick in 2022, introduced himself to NFL fans last year with a spectacular one-handed catch against the Cleveland Browns. The grab carried shades of Odell Beckham Jr.

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Pickens made 52 receptions for 801 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie. But he sees himself as capable of much more, and he will tell anyone who will listen that he's an elite talent.

"The stuff that I do, bro, I feel like I'm the best in the whole world," Pickens told The Ringer. "I'm big, I'm fast, low 4.4 [speed]. Catch radius is crazy. So every time I get out on the field, I do kind of play angry because I should get the ball on every play if you just look at the size and the frame. If I was a coach, I'd just throw to him every time.

Steelers defender responds after George Pickens embarrasses him in practiceGeorge Pickens wowed fans with his catch against his Steelers teammate. (BWall/Twitter)

"But that's not how the NFL works. So every time I'm out there, that's why I throw the blocks. I love getting the ball, and when I'm not getting the ball I play angry so the attention is back on me. I basically draw attention to myself."

He added: "If you want a receiver, you create a [video game] player, it's 'Oh, I'm gonna put his blocking 99, catching 99, speed 99.' That's me. ... As far as what you'd use to build a receiver, I'm the ideal guy."

Porter will look forward to the start of the regular season when Pickens' catching abilities will come against other NFL organisations rather than teammates.

The Steelers could develop an above-average offence this year. They have promising second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett throwing passes, 24-year-old tight end Pat Freiermuth providing a threat up the seams and 25-year-old running back Najee Harris giving Tomlin a balanced approach.

If they use those weapons to power a deep playoff run, Porter may consider mending his relationship with the wide receiver who torched him.

Dan Bernstein

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