The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are in a critical portion of the offseason in which the preseason takes center stage, where some of the biggest and most important questions get answered, especially in terms of personnel.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Game Edition – How will the Ben Roethlisberger–James Washington connection fair in first game?
For the very first time later today, the Steelers will get a glimpse at what their offense is going to look like with a pair of young, talented wide receivers flanking veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While Antonio Brown may not play (he has yet to be formally ruled in or out), it may be a good thing if he doesn’t to get a long look at James Washington working with the starting group.
The rookie second-round pick got the nod to move up to the first-team offense in practice after coming up big in the Steelers’ last preseason game, going off in the second half with five catches for 114 yards and a pair of impressive combat catches for touchdowns inside the red zone.
Though he has been working with Roethlisberger since then, Washington has had hist struggles in connecting with the veteran, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering that they had hardly worked together at all prior to that. The quarterback has also been pressing the young wide receiver, testing him with difficult and surprising throws.
But the receiver has taken it all in stride and accepted it as part of his learning experience, which takes a major step forward today in seeing his first game action with the first-team group. While he has played extensively in the first two preseason games, it has been generally down on the depth chart.
Roethlisberger is probably not going to play very long in the game, and has a good rapport with JuJu Smith-Schuster, so one wonders how many opportunities Washington will get to receive passes from the franchise guy.
My hope is that it’s at least a decent amount. You’d like to see him get some good work in before the season opener, in which he is expected to pair with Brown and Smith-Schuster as the starting wide receivers.