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2018 South Side Questions: Will Washington Head Back To Inactive List?

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 already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.

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: Will James Washington go back to being a healthy scratch for the Steelers’ next game?

What with the Steelers seemingly determining over the course of the past five quarters that Ryan Switzer is their third-best option at the wide receiver position, one can’t help but wonder what that means for rookie wide receiver James Washington, who has caught not even a third of his targets so far this season, for a variety of reasons.

The team began to significantly scale back his playing time heading into the bye week, and then listed him as a healthy scratch in the first game after it before he was reinserted into the lineup. He even played extensively upon his return, but still had a marginal impact.

With Switzer is expected to be the number three receiver, then they may very well opt to activate Justin Hunter instead, who is far from perfect, but at least has a more complete understanding of the offense and is comfortable playing both inside and outside as a number four option.

At the moment, it almost feels as though playing Washington may do him more harm than good if (again, for a variety of reasons that are not all on him) he continues to log significant time without being able to contribute much positively.

There is even the (outside?) possibility that the player who ultimately replaces Washington on the gameday active list later this season will be somebody who is not currently on the 53-man roster. Eli Rogers has likely been healthy for a while now, but the team has felt no need to bring him back.

If they reach the decision that Washington will not offer much help this season, and that Hunter is not a much better option, we could see the fourth-year wide receiver finally get on the practice field. If that is the case, it could begin today.

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