5 Steelers players who can't afford to regress in 2023

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14)
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (14) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Steelers Kenny Pickett still needs to show growth

As I just stated, this offense is going to be built around the run game with Harris and Warren at the helm. While that takes some pressure off of the quarterback, Kenny Pickett still needs to show a lot of growth entering year two. He doesn’t have to be perfect or elite, but he has to play better than he did as a rookie.

For starters, turnovers need to go down. While Pickett became a much more conservative passer in the second half of his rookie season, he was a turnover machine early on. Increased pass attempts will lead to some more interceptions naturally, but Pickett has to make better decisions like he did down the stretch.

He also needs to score more. While there were a lot of core issues with his rookie season, seven passing scores are bad. He has a lot of physical weapons that should thrive in the red zone, and he needs to be ready to utilize them.

He also needs to show that he is a better player entering year two. Even if the offense isn’t built around his arm, I expect to see some healthy growth out of a former first-round rookie quarterback. Will he have to win with his arm every week? No, but Pickett has to look like a better passer this year than last.

If Pickett doesn’t improve from his rookie season, this offense will struggle. If he somehow regresses, this team will likely be cooked. More importantly, if Pickett remains consistent or regresses in year two, you have to open the door for a potential replacement. Pickett doesn’t have to be elite, but the team can’t afford him to regress this season.

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While the Steelers have built a competitive team on paper, they also are still banking on a few players improving their overall performance. In particular, these five players will be key contributors for the team, and they can’t afford to regress heading into the new season.