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CB Patrick Peterson believes Steelers' success will 'come down to how well Kenny (Pickett) can play'

Patrick Peterson believes there's a talent-rich roster in Pittsburgh that has the Steelers poised to have a special season.

In Peterson's veteran eyes, the most crucial question mark will be the play of quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Somewhat surprisingly, Peterson didn't hesitate to heap pressure aplenty onto the second-year signal-caller's shoulders.

"I believe he is a guy that we can rely on, a guy who we can count on," Peterson told Jim Rome this week. "Now it's going to all fall on him if he can go out there and show us what he's capable of doing."

Pittsburgh is brimming with talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball as a whole and at the skill spots on offense. Edge rusher Alex Highsmith, who along with T.J. Watt makes up one of the NFL's elite pass-rushing tandems, believes that with players such as Peterson, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers could have the top defense in the league.

Peterson would seem to concur and is clearly confident in the squad on both sides of the ball making up a Super Bowl contender if Pickett can come through.

"I do, and what it's going to come down to is we have all the pieces that we need on defense," Peterson told Rome when asked if he felt the Steelers had a Super Bowl-caliber roster. "We know defense wins championships. We have talent across the board on the offensive side of the ball. I believe the front office did a great job of getting what we needed in the draft as far as getting Broderick (Jones) in the first round, a left tackle, young pup who you should expect to see play a lot. You added Allen Robinson, you got Diontae Johnson, you got George Pickens, you got Najee (Harris). You know it's all going to come down to how well Kenny can play and can he put the ball where it needs to go."

It seems a bit much for the 32-year-old vet to verbalize just how much rides on the right arm on Pickett, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong.

One caveat left out is the offensive line in its entirety. The addition of Jones is a splendid one and so too was the signing of ex-Philadelphia Eagles guard Isaac Seumalo. However, offensive line struggles have plagued Pittsburgh for years now and that's certainly going to impact how Pickett plays in Year 2.

As a rookie, Pickett showed progress as the season marched on, which at least played a part in Pittsburgh rallying back from a 3-7 start to a 9-8 finish. The 2022 first-round pick threw for 2,404 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games. Though those are hardly eye-popping numbers, Pickett showed moxie and calm under pressure as he produced a 7-5 record as a starter with five victories in one-possession games.

Peterson has an individual resume that will make him a Hall of Fame candidate, as he's posted eight Pro Bowl seasons, three All-Pro accolades and a spot on the Hall of Fame All-2010s Team. Team success has evaded the 12-season pro, though. He's coming off a wild-card appearance in his second season with the Minnesota Vikings, which was just the third playoff berth for the former star corner in his career.

Thus, Peterson no doubt wants to win now and perhaps he's looking to add a little fuel to his new QB's fire.

Peterson memorably didn't mince any words in his assessment about his former teammate, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, last season. Now he's not holding back in letting it be known that he believes his newest squad, the Steelers, can go far in 2023 -- just as far as Pickett can take them.

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