Sports Writing, 17 Aug. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett and Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson lead the rookies to watch in week two of the NFL preseason starting Thursday.
Pickett, the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2022 Draft, made his debut on Saturday in the duel in which the Steelers beat the Seahawks 32-25 to a standing ovation from his team’s fans and the 24-year-old responded with a remarkable performance.
He passed for 95 yards, connected on 13 of 15 passes and had two touchdowns, numbers that excite his fans who hope he can be a worthy successor to the legendary Ben Roethlisberger who retired at the beginning of the year after 18 seasons.
In the offseason Pickett had only reps with the second team and was considered the No. 3 quarterback behind the experienced Mitch Trubisky, one, and Mason Rudolph, two.
That changed in the final part of training on Tuesday.
Kenny was in front of the headlines for the first time. He outperformed Trubisky 8-for-10, who was 11-for-15; and to Rudolph, 10 of 15; which gives him a chance to start Saturday’s game against the Jaguars.
With Detroit, the second worst team of the 2021 season, Aidan Hutchinson, selection two of the first round of this year’s Draft, shone in his preseason debut in the game in which the Lions lost 27-23 to Atlanta falcons.
Hutchinson was efficient on all 11 snaps with his quickness and blocking. Positioned to one side of the guard on the left side, he generated loss of yards to the rival in a couple of actions. Given the pressure he generated he was double teamed to avoid his blocking.
Detroit will play the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday and coach Dan Campbell warned that he will demand Hutchinson again.
“Just because Aidan is a first-round pick doesn’t mean he has the respect. He has to win it and he understands that; he breaks his heart, that’s exactly what you want from a rookie,” Campbell said.
Brian Robinson is another rookie to watch. The running back taken in the third round of the Draft by the Washington Commanders showed off last weekend with a rushing touchdown and two receptions in his NFL debut; he was the engine of his offense.
The Commanders will meet the Chiefs also on Saturday.
For the Dallas Cowboys, who play the Los Angeles Chargers on the same day, coach Mike McCarthy is confident that his fourth-round pick, 23-year-old Jake Ferguson, will be the complement he needs on offense.
“Jake is everything we thought he was. I love his tenacity, he’s brilliant and has a clear understanding of the game. He’s a very versatile player,” McCarthy boasted.
NFL preseason week two games:
Thursday 18.08: Bears-Seahawks.
Friday 08.07: Panthers-Patriots, Saints-Packers and Texans-Rams.
Saturday 08.20: Broncos-Bills, Lions-Colts, Commanders-Chiefs, Buccaneers-Titans, Raiders-Dolphins, 49ers-Vikings, Steelers-Jaguars and Cowboys-Chargers.
Sunday 08.21: Eagles-Browns, Bengals-Giants and Ravens-Cardinals.
Monday 08.22: Falcons-Jets.EFE
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Pickett and Hutchinson, rookies to watch in week 2 of the NFL preseason