The Pittsburgh Steelers have now released their Week 8 inactive list ahead of their Sunday home game against the Cleveland Browns and a bit surprisingly it included the name of rookie wide receiver James Washington, the team’s second-round draft pick this year.
As I wrote in this week’s inactive prediction post, it was a pretty good bet that veteran wide receiver Justin Hunter would get a helmet on Sunday against the Browns due to comments made by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on his Tuesday radio interview.
“I think we need to sprinkle in Justin Hunter a little bit because he is a guy that’s been around, that can make plays for us,” Roethlisberger said on Tuesday. “So, I think the smart and prudent thing to do is to continue to use both guys [Hunter and Washington] and let the cream rise to the top, if you will.”
Washington has only caught 5 passes so far this season for 49 yards and a touchdown. He hasn’t, however, caught a deep pass attempt from Roethlisberger as of yet. Hunter, on the other hand, enters Week 8 with just one catch for 6 yards. He’s only dressed for three games so far this season.
Perhaps the most telling aspect from the Steelers pre-bye week game is that Hunter replaced Washington at the end of the team’s second to last offensive possession once it entered the red zone and the entire final game-winning possession. Hunter’s legal pick also helped free fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown for the game-winning touchdown and Roethlisberger made sure to let the media know that during his post-game press conference.
With fellow veteran wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey returning this weekend from an ankle injury that has sidelined him the last two games and Hunter all of a sudden impressing Roethlisberger, Washington became the odd man out against the Browns.
It will now be interesting to see how Washington rebounds from what is essentially a Week 8 benching as his cream certainly seems to have curdled and failed to rise to the top during the Steelers bye week.