ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — First-round draft pick Kenny Pickett will make his first-ever NFL start for the Steelers here in Orchard Park on Sunday against the Bills. Now while Pickett is new to the NFL, he’s very familiar to many of the guys in the Buffalo locker room.

Some went against him, but Dane Jackson and Damar Hamlin think of Pickett more than just a former teammate at the University of Pittsburgh. They call him a friend.

“It’s a close relationship,” said Hamlin. “I feel like he was the quarterback of the offense, I was the quarterback of the defense. We were both captains too. We worked together well.”

Jackson and Pickett played for the Panthers together for three years from 2017-2019.

“We built a relationship when I was at Pitt,” said Jackson. That’s been my guy. When he got drafted and when I got drafted we hit each other up. That’s my boy.”

Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau played against the former Pitt quarterback while playing for the Miami Hurricanes. In the contest, Rousseau sacked Pickett three times.

“He’s a dog,” said Rousseau. “He’s a competitor. He’s not going to quit. It was a real close game. I think they had the ball at the end of the game. I got a sack on him. They were trying to go down there and score. He’s a competitor and I’m excited to go against him.”

Even going against Pickett in practice all those years, both Jackson and Hamlin say that experience in college you can throw right out the window.

“He’s a pro now,” said Jackson. “I’m sure he has new things in the way he plays and in the way he goes about his business. Everyone has to go and study the film.”

“It’s a whole new world,” said Hamlin. “He’s in a whole new system. I’m in a whole new system. We got to learn each other again through film and see how it goes on Sunday.”

Jackson and Hamlin of course want to beat Pickett Sunday, but they still hope Pickett has a good game.
“Us Pitt brothers stick together,” said Jackson. “Anytime one of us step on the field, we’re cheering for each other.”