Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin started wide receiver George Pickens on Saturday against the Bengals.

The Steelers won the game 34-11.

Tomlin called for the press conference in an attempt to mitigate the impact of Pickens’ controversial comments earlier in the week.

On Tuesday, several members of the media asked Pickens about plays in the team’s game against the Colts last weekend, in which he did not appear to be hustling. Pickens argued that the media was unfairly criticizing him. Regarding one play in particular where he seemed to miss an important block for running back Jaylen Warren, he also said that he did not get involved in order to avoid injury.

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“George is a talented guy but he’s growing and growing in a lot of ways in regards to football and life,” Tomlin said Wednesday. “We don’t run away from that. We run to that organizationally when we draft guys. We’re committed to being a component of their growth and development in all areas.”

Tomlin and Pickens have had a contentious relationship for most of the season, as the head coach has previously had to deal with Pickens’ outbursts in front of the media. Though he continues to stand by Pickens, he also seemed to offer some no-nonsense advice for the young player.

“When you’re winning and doing your jobs, a lot of the attention is on things such as that,” Tomlin said. “When you’re not doing your job and losing, you better keep your damn mouth shut and understand that that tracks a certain type of attention, as well. And usually that’s vulture-like attention.”

Once a surprising playoff contender, the Steelers are now 7-7 and have lost three straight games to the Cardinals, Patriots and Colts.

Quarterback Mason Rudolph started this week while Kenny Pickett recovers from injury.

It seems that the team’s dysfunction this season, from a change in offensive coordinator to emotional locker room outbursts, has finally caught up to the team. Pittsburgh will play the Bengals, Seahawks and Ravens to wrap up the season.

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