Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Will Johnson had a solid rookie season in 2012 that included him catching 15 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown, and according to the West Virginia product, he believes he will be used even more in the passing game in 2013.
“My coaches and I have discussed my future role, and if I continue to gain their trust, I believe that they will utilize me more frequently in the passing game in addition to my traditional blocking role as fullback,” Johnson told Caleb Wygal of Pros Report.
Johnson was discovered by the Steelers during West Virginia\’s 2012 Pro Day as the former Mountaineer was invited to participate in it for a second year in a row. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert were impressed enough by the workout of the former undrafted free agent that they immediately signed him to a futures contract.
When the Steelers started training camp a year ago, Will Johnson was behind fellow fullback David Johnson on the depth chart, and the two had quite a battle going on leading up to the first preseason game. As fate would have it, David Johnson tore up his knee early in that first preseason game and was lost for the season as a result. His injury opened the door for Will Johnson to become the starter, and he did just that.
Now that he has a full season underneath his belt, Will Johnson told Wygal the areas that he worked on improving in during the offseason.
“At the end of last season, I identified some areas that I could improve upon,” Johnson said. “I specifically focused on building more lower-body strength and blocking techniques. The minor changes will strengthen my skill-set and improve my overall performance so that I am better equipped to help my team in any way that they need me.”
Should tight end Heath Miller not be ready for the start of the season, the Steelers certainly will need as many receiving options on the field as they can get to help soften the blow of his absence until he is ready to play. Johnson moves well for a fullback and that more than likely is because he was originally a wide receiver when he first arrived at West Virginia.
A few times last season we saw Will Johnson run the wheel route out of the backfield perfectly, and two of his 15 receptions were explosive plays that went for more than 20 yards each. I have a feeling that we will see a few more of those big plays in 2013 out of Will Johnson and he very well could wind up with 20 plus receptions which we haven\’t seen accomplished by a Steelers fullback since the days of John L. Williams.